Rock solid coon club in North Carolina
4/8/2007 7:15:40 PM
Journal entry for Monday, April 9, 2007
Rockingham, NC - The mile oval track in Rockingham, affectionately known as "The Rock," was one of the most exciting venues in NASCAR racing. The North Carolina Motor Speedway, nestled in the Carolina sand hills featured two NASCAR Cup races each year for nearly 40 years before the last call to “start your engines” was uttered in 2004.
As I drove past the track recently on my way to the Richmond County Cooner Club, just 5 miles down the road, the “Subway 400” billboard along Highway 1, a remnant of the last race there reminded me of the glory days at The Rock. I thought about how Rockingham was once considered a super speedway. Now the track is a sleeping giant, a lonely place rendered obsolete in the shadow of the newer, bigger, state-of- the art venues like Texas, California, Chicago, and Phoenix.
Arriving at the Richmond County Cooner Club clubhouse on Ledbetter Lake, the first thing that greets you is the water race pond that parallels the entry driveway. When I drove up to the clubhouse, a crowd of members was already gathered for the monthly club meeting. Randy McDonald greeted me and gave me a history of the club which is one of North Carolina’s oldest. He said that the club has been at the same location since its inception, a location that may be in jeopardy, facing a similar fate to the Rockingham racetrack but for different reasons. A failure to draw a sellout crowd will not likely be the reason the clubhouse doors could close as was the race track’s fate.
The club sits on valuable lake property and the club’s lease could fall victim to higher taxes that may force the property’s sale. But if losing the club grounds is on the minds of the members, it doesn't show in the enthusiasm they have for their sport. Their attitude is infectious and certainly not dampened by the prospect of what the future may or may not bring. The fellowship and good-hearted banter that permeated the atmosphere during the fine meal we enjoyed last Thursday night tells me that things are going pretty good at the Richmond County Cooner Club.
I enjoyed the opportunity to present the AKC coonhound program to the club. They were getting things ready for their UKC hunt on Friday night and invited me down to share the New AKC at their preparation meeting for that event. I fielded lots of questions about the new programs and our rules and was very encouraged by the comments of the group. Randy McDonald echoed words the field staff hears over and over these days – “You’ve got a good format here. This will work.”
I thank the Richmond County Cooner Club members for inviting me down, feeding me extremely well, and giving me a great idea of a new place to come hunting when the competition bug bites. I plan to make some of the hunts down that way and hope that the Richmond County club will soon be added to the list of clubs that are experiencing the fun and excitement of AKC hunts. Thanks fellows for a great evening at your club!
Photo: Richmond County Cooner Club of Rockingham, North Carolina members, front row, (l-r) Doug Warnock, Shorty Shelley, and youth hunter Tommy Wilkes. Back row, (l-r) Lee Crisco, Kenny McDonald, Scott McDonald, and Randy McDonald.