Vance County Visitor Center & Motorsports Hall of Fame Overview
The Vance County Tourism Development Authority, located in Henderson, NC, is proposing the establishment of a visitor’s center and a motorsports complex that focuses its attention on the sport of drag racing. The complex would be located in Henderson, NC, with immediate and easy access to the daily high traffic volumes of Interstate 85. The complex and its supporting facilities would be a destination for residents and visitors to the state of North Carolina and specifically for the economic improvement of the region.
A featured part of the hall of fame will be the already existing (now in its eleventh year) East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame, whose members include native North Carolinians as well as racing legends from across the nation. Our intentions are to make the East Coast Drag Racing Hall of Fame a permanent home for the culture and history of the sport of drag racing on the East Coast.
Plans call for the motorsports complex to house a premier collection of racecars, hot rods, muscle cars and a wide variety of memorabilia reflecting the culture and obsession of drag racing. Exhibits will be designed to showcase the cars and their drivers and be complimented with both audio and visual display support that both entertains as well as educates hall of fame visitors. Due to drag racing’s uniquely diverse range of participants, the hall of fame will provide exposure and insight into the careers of male drivers, female, Native –American, Hispanic, African-Americans and Asian who gained fame and success as drag racing competitors. Included will be an educational opportunity to highlight the automobile as a means of travel and commerce, as well as its unique position as an object of personal expression and the basis for the motorsports industry that continues to thrive in North Carolina and the U.S. A learning center targeting all ages will provide hands-on interactive portals capable of accommodating individuals as well as school groups from the region as well as the hall of fame’s multi-state market area.
Our intention is to make the Vance County Visitor Center and Motorsports Hall of Fame an integral part of the revitalization of the economic engine of not only Henderson and Vance County, but the entire region. To achieve this we are planning to develop five supporting retail parcels (farmers market, restaurant, gift shop, and other green businesses) for rent to business owners wishing to capitalize on the anticipated large and growing number of visitors to the property. We anticipate these retail parcels and the hall of fame to create an estimated 30+ new jobs as well as a healthy economic climate that fosters continued, aggressive growth for the area. These retail parcels are also expected to provide a financial cushion for operating costs, maintenance and promotion of the hall of fame and attractions.
It should be especially noted that the type of facility proposed does not currently exist on the East Coast of the United States. We feel that this will also provide a unique branding opportunity for the museum and its supporting attractions.
A primary objective in the creation of the motorsports complex is to stimulate economic growth in Vance County and surrounding areas. Currently, Vance County is designated as a Tier I county. Alarmingly, official records indicate a loss of 1,900+ manufacturing, textile and agricultural jobs in just the last five years. Creation of the museum will quickly spawn economic prosperity and help Vance County make the transition from an agri-textile based economy to a motorsports destination. Centered in a major motorsports cluster compliments our already exceptionally successful East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame Reunion, and fuels even more growth for this event. Now in its eleventh year, this event encompasses the entire downtown and outlying areas of historic Henderson. The three-day automotive festival attracts 50,000+ visitors from 19 states, and fills area motels, restaurants and shops with participants and spectators who in 2008, spent more than $3 million dollars in the area. The event also attracts numerous media members and motorsports celebrities and produces considerable, positive media attention for Henderson, Vance County and the surrounding region of North Carolina.
We also envision the hall of fame as a multi-purpose facility that will provide the Vance County Visitors Center a base for operation and a meeting center for special events held by local, county and regional civic groups, racers and automotive industry manufacturers. A gift shop to market souvenirs, related memorabilia and merchandise and educational literature with a decided emphasis on North Carolina and its contribution to motorsports and the racing industry would also be included.
Hall of Fame interior space will house displays and areas for suitable vehicles that “tell the story” of how various automobiles have been used for drag racing competition. There are also excellent opportunities in coordinating and developing “hands-on” educational and demonstration displays of the substantial industry that supports the drag racing industry and all of motorsports. This aspect of hall of fame operation would be closely coordinated with Vance-Granville Community College and offers tremendous potential in expanding the curriculum and enrollment at VGCC. The proposed training and curriculum courses could provide local and area residents with the tools needed to acquire training for a successful career in a motorsports related field. Presently, Vance County’s high unemployment rate and other negative social factors, and a resulting lack of hope, has contributed to many students’ not believing that education can help them change their lives for the better. Many students lack a focus on the future. The hall of fame and learning center could provide the focus needed to break a long cycle of poverty.
The proposed motorsports complex will provide numerous benefits to the City of Henderson, Vance County, the State of North Carolina and the East Coast of the U.S. by providing a direct link with the rich contribution that sanctioned, organized drag racing has made to the cultural heritage of all Americans. North Carolina currently has the greatest number of active drag strips in the U.S., and is considered a key state in the motorsports industry. These tracks and their participants and spectators offer a significant “local audience” of continuing visitors to the hall of fame as well as enhancing the value of high performance and racing oriented parts manufacturers considering relocation to the state. The hall of fame will also provide a notable tourism boost that will attract considerable numbers of visitors, making the hall of fame and other NC attractions a tourism destination.
Our plans call for marketing the motorsports complex as a first-stop visitor destination, with visitors extending their stay in the area to take advantage of the many recreational attractions our area provides. Our proposed location on I-85 not only provides high visibility signage for large outdoor billboards, it will also permit us to showcase the museum and its facilities to the 38,000 vehicles that daily pass our proposed location, creating the additional benefit of impulse stops for casual visitors. Such activities are projected to produce a significant increase in local merchant business and provide an exceptional economic growth opportunity for Henderson, Vance County and North Carolina as well as to a broad spectrum of potential businesses and residents interested in relocating. This will positively impact the economy of these areas, broaden local tax bases and add to local, county and state sales tax collections. A collaborative partnership between our neighboring counties will develop a marketing program to include a variety of tourism attractions with a wide range of entertainment offered to visitors generating longer overnight stays and increasing tourism dollars. Tourism is the anchor product for our former tobacco and textile region offering music and entertainment complex, a water park, a motorsports complex, museums, wineries, heritage tourism, antique shops and a drag strip for racing enthusiast. We are the first town on I-85 South leaving Virginia and entering North Carolina. The hall of fame will welcome the business, leisure and vacation traveler as a destination stop or an impulse stop generating business for the small businesses located on the I-85.
Perhaps the greatest single impact delivered by the motorsports complex will be the almost immediate 30+ jobs projected to be added by the museum and its retail parcels. Additional income will be derived from increased economic opportunities for merchants and businesses, in particular restaurants, lodging establishments, gasoline retailers and other retail outlets. And with the projected success and growth of these retail operations will come a strong residual growth pattern for support businesses to serve these new entities.
Our Board of Directors consists of experienced individuals with varied backgrounds in the motorsports industry as well as other businesses. These individuals possess a wealth of contacts that we feel will be critical in gaining the corporate sponsorships and assistance we are seeking. Our plans include use of varied media to promote the facilities. These will include television, print ads in various travel and leisure publications, newspapers, performance automotive and drag racing oriented magazines and web sites, trade shows and drag racing events whose demographics are best suited to promote the facility. Rental income received from the proposed five retail parcels adjoining the museum will also enhance our operating revenue. A heritage tourism project, the motorsports complex will house a premiere collection of antique/classic cars and a varied collection of nostalgia and contemporary race cars, hot rods, muscle cars, photos, literature and memorabilia dedicated to educating and preserving the history of the automobile.
Supporters and Givers:
- Vance County Tourism Development Authority
- Vance County Board of Commissioners
- City of Henderson
- Downtown Development Commission
- S&S Racing Team
- Billy J. Holt
- John Livingston
- John Musilli, Sr.
- Bud Faubel
- George Weiler
- Alfred F. Mori
- Billy “Cigar” Holt
- Larry Holland
- Quartermasters Racing Team
- Tom Anderson
- John Russ
- Jim Amos
- Carlos & Mary Cedro
- Richard Gore
- Arthur Gore
- Gary Gore