County officials: We're not pursuing NASCAR track

A NASCAR speedway in the Rock Hill area? Don't start your engines just yet.

City and York County officials say they have no plans to pursue a track, despite occasional media reports that Rock Hill would be a viable spot if billionaire racing mogul Bruton Smith makes good on a threat to move his speedway out of Concord, N.C.

In fact, the notion was met with laughter by county Planning Director Susan Britt, whose workdays are spent planning for subdivisions and road projects -- not superspeedways that would be equal in size to a small city.

"This is the first I've heard of it," Britt said. "That's not to say it's not being talked about, but no one contacted the county's planning department or economic development office."

The rumors grew from Smith's threat last month to close Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord because of a dispute with Concord leaders over plans for a drag strip next to the speedway. Smith said he'd put up $350 million to build another track elsewhere in the Charlotte region. A secretary said Smith was unavailable for comment Friday.

Somehow, a finger got pointed toward Rock Hill, with the chatter fueled by the possibility that South Carolina could dangle millions in tax incentives. The 1,000-acre Celanese site just east of town might be big enough, but developers are deep into plans for shops, homes and an industrial park there.

No local officials seem to know who's behind the NASCAR idea.

Rock Hill City Manager Carey Smith is familiar with the racing world, having come from Daytona Beach, Fla., where the season-opening Daytona 500 is run every year.

Smith, no relation to the speedway owner, has said he hasn't had any conversations with anyone about the possibility.

That's also the case for County Manager Jim Baker, who said he doesn't know anything about a rezoning request for a speedway.

"It would totally be news to me," he said.