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Dave Risdon forced out of High Rock Raceway development

By Steve Huffman
shuffman@salisburypost.com
SPENCER ó Dave Risdon is apparently out as chief executive officer of High Rock Raceway.
Frank McGuire, High Rock’s senior vice president, said Monday that Risdon’s affiliation with the track and its company, High Rock Properties, was ended late Thursday.
McGuire declined to provide much detail, but said a news release about the transition would be sent Monday to the Post. It didn’t arrive.
Risdon didn’t return phone calls from the Post Monday.
Risdon’s biography and any other reference to him has been deleted from the raceway’s Web site. Risdon’s biography has been a mainstay since the Web site was created years ago.
In a brief interview Monday afternoon, McGuire said Risdon owed his daughter, Ellen McGuire, an unspecified amount of money, and that played a significant role in his departure.
McGuire said the board of directors met Thursday and removed Risdon from his position.
In 2005, Ellen McGuire, owner of a marketing business in Davidson, filed a civil lawsuit against Risdon, claiming she was the person who conceived the idea for High Rock Raceway and saying she was promised 5 percent ownership of the track in exchange for the idea.
According to Rowan County Clerk of Court Jeff Barger, the lawsuit was dismissed in 2007. Barger said any agreement that might have been reached between Ellen McGuire and Risdon wouldn’t be reflected in papers indicating the lawsuit’s dismissal.
Frank McGuire insisted Monday that plans for the racetrack are still intact and said construction is forthcoming.
“It’s frustrating,” he said of problems that have plagued plans for the construction. “But all the work has been done. We are ready to go.”
McGuire said conditional use and grading permits for the project have been issued. He said track partners are looking for a new partner with racing and raceway-building experience to join their team.
“We need someone who can lead us forward,” McGuire said.
There are no plans to immediately fill the position of High Rock’s chief executive officer. McGuire said the track’s developer, Thomas Senenfelder of New York City’s TMS Inc., remains committed to the project.
“Once they say we’re funded, we can push the switch and get going,” McGuire said.
Exactly when that will happen is not clear. In May, members of the Spencer Board of Aldermen signed a 28-page municipal agreement between the municipality and racetrack officials.
At the time, town officials said the agreement relieved Spencer of possible liabilities associated with the track. It also called for a 20-year working agreement between the town and the raceway, though Spencer isn’t investing money in the project.
In April, when he first presented the agreement to aldermen, Risdon said work on the track might begin as early as the first of June.
Spencer Mayor Jody Everhart said he’d love to see work begin on the track. Risdon and McGuire began working with town officials on matters relating to the raceway in 2005. Everhart noted that Town Manager Larry Smith spent numerous hours helping to fine-tune the municipal agreement that was signed last month.
Spencer has over the years held several public hearings on matters relating to the track and promises to begin construction have continually been pushed back.
All that shows for those years of work is the rubble of the former Color-Tex plant, which had previously been N.C. Finishing Co. Risdon, a Boston businessman, owned a stake in Color-Tex and obtained the property, along with its debt obligation, after the company went out of business in 2000.
“I think the citizens are kind of tired of getting their hopes up and then, ‘Oh, something came up,’ ” Everhart said of continued construction delays.
He said the promises that aldermen were given in May were the latest in a long line of disappointments pertaining to the track.
“We were assured they were in the process of selling bonds and everything was going smoothly,” Everhart said.
Spencer made a satellite annexation years ago of about 195 acres where the raceway is supposed to be constructed. Everhart said the raceway could greatly enhance Spencer’s tax base, though he said the town hasn’t lost anything if it’s never built because it has no money invested.
“It’s hard to miss something that’s not there,” Everhart said.

Staff writer Jessie Burchette contributed to this article.

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