Confirmed: Rockingham Speedway will become a car storage site

2005: The blue Jensen Motorsport cars line up on the Rockingham grid: right to left - Pete Le Bas, Wayne Clark and Ricky Cole. MAYOAK0002939040
2005: The blue Jensen Motorsport cars line up on the Rockingham grid: right to left - Pete Le Bas, Wayne Clark and Ricky Cole. MAYOAK0002939040

No racing will take place at Rockingham Speedway beyond the end of 2018, it has been confirmed.

The 300 acre site in Mitchell Road, once hailed as the future of British Motorsport, is believed to have been sold to an un-named investment company registered in the tax haven of St Helier, Jersey, and will become a major storage centre for defleet and auction vehicles.

Back in the day: Ascar at Rockingham Speedway

Back in the day: Ascar at Rockingham Speedway

However, it is hoped that most of the 80 tenants based in offices at Rockingham can remain there.

Tenants were told last night (Thursday) that there would be no further racing at Rockingham after the end of 2018 because of a change in business use.

Michael Tomlain is director of one of the Speedway’s biggest tenants. His firm City Auction Group rents facilities at the stadium, although they are not the buyer.

“It’s just not been financially viable. It’s never worked,” he said.

Flashback: Rockingham Motor Speedway in 2008

Flashback: Rockingham Motor Speedway in 2008

“We have a long-term lease and we are very much part of the next stage.

“We’re going to stay there and in some regard, it’s exciting.

“It will definitely mean that the current employability levels will be larger.

“There’s no doubt about that because vehicle defleet, storage and auctions employ a lot of people.

“It’s an investment company that has purchased it and that’s their current plan going forward.

“The heritage of Rockingham will remain.

“This is going to make sure that Rockingham has a future.

“There was people talking about putting a bulldozer through the stands but there’s a real opportunity here for Rockingham from my point of view.”

When the Northants Telegraph contacted Rockingham Speedway in March, our reporter was told that it was the first year that Rockingham had ever returned a profit and the future looked promising.

But last night motor racing fans spoke of how they felt let-down on social media after the firm announced its was going to have a change of business use on its Facebook page.

There are between 50 and 80 businesses based at the site, many of them based around the automotive industry.

The speedway was owned by BeLa Partnerships which is in administration and owes millions to various companies and the public purse. Its sale will help some of those organisations recover some of their investments.

A sister company of Rockingham Speedway, Northants Rockingham Speedway Limited is also in administration, owing £38,000,000 to its parent company BeLa Partnerships.

Speedway owners announced they were seeking a buyer in 2016 when BeLa went into administration.

It was rumoured that there were new owners interested in March but then in June the British Touring Cars Championship dumped the track out of its schedule for 2019.

Read more: Broken dreams: The rise and fall of Rockingham Speedway