High Rock Raceway investors seek answers as plans fizzle
By Jessie Burchette
Investors in the planned High Rock Raceway have taken to the Internet in search of answers.
And one investor is ready to take legal action to prevent sale of any shares or property in the track until investor issues are cleared up. Some investors have apparently hired a private investigator to sort out where the money has gone and who owns what.
The plan to build 2-mile plus road course with a country club and upscale townhouses on the site of the old N.C. Finishing Co. along the banks of the Yadkin River generated wide support in Spencer when it was announced in 2005.
A series of completion dates were announced but the development company was never able to raise the $30 million needed. The project also ran afoul of county and state agencies for repeated failures to secure permits and deal with environmental issues.
This week, an ad appeared on the Salisbury Post online classifieds:
“Attention High Rock Raceway Investors. An investigation is being conducted into the High Rock Raceway Project. If you have made payment in any form to High Rock Properties LLC, including deposits on condominiums or membership purchases, please respond to the e-mail address below with your name and contact information. A private investigator will reply to your response as soon as possible.”
The address is Investorsofhighrockraceway @gmail.com.
One investor contends his 9 percent investment has been wiped out with the magic of a copying machine. In a 2007 document showing members and shares, FC Development based in Iredell County has a 9 percent share.
Tom Gamelin, a principle in FC Development, said he was surprised and shocked when he recently saw a 2008 document showing the investment and shares.
“The 9 percent went away with a copy machine,” Gamelin said. He estimated his company’s investment at close to $750,000. Part of that involves payment owed for extensive grading work done on the site.
Gamelin confirmed that Dave Risdon, the former chief executive officer of High Rock Properties, gave shares in the project in lieu of payment for the grading. High Rock Properties is the development company of the race track project.
He said no one knows how many other partners may be out there, noting that he has talked with other investors and they come from all across the nation.
Gamelin pointed out the documents show his 9 percent was reallocated with a local Realtor getting a nearly 1 percent share, and everyone else getting an increase in their share.
“How could they justify that? Did Santa Claus come and give it to them because they had been good?” Gamelin asked.
He said he has partnership agreements signed by Risdon, Frank McGuire (the current senior vice president) and McGuire’s wife, Barbara Ames McGuire.
Gamelin said he has repeatedly tried to contact the McGuires and their attorney in Davidson but has gotten no response.
According to the 2008 document, the McGuires own about 24 percent of the shares.
Last month, McGuire’s daughter, Ellen, obtained Risdon’s 69 percent share when Risdon failed to pay off a loan that was past due.
At this point, the McGuire family, including Barbara Ames McGuire’s daughter and son-in-law (Joel and Jennifer Ames Harper) now own more than 92 percent of High Rock Properties.
Frank McGuire, senior vice president, dismissed Gamelin’s claim as sour grapes, saying “those guys never had any stock in the company.”
McGuire also contended that Risdon paid FC Development for work. “They got paid. We have copies of the checks. This is a contract dispute,” he said.
McGuire also confirmed that some of the money paid as deposits on townhouses has been spent. He said there is a line in the contracts that allowed the money to be taken out of escrow and spent on track development.
He said he doesn’t know exact figures. “Dave took everything (records) … the office was in his house.”
McGuire said he has been contacting the nearly 100 people who made deposits and updating them on the situation.
“We’re going forward forming a new partnership. We’re trying to reconstruct the financial side of the business,” McGuire said Thursday.