January 3, 2008. PKV Racing announced that popular Spanish driver Oriol Servià, who had finished sixth in the 2007 Champ Car World Series, would return to the series for 2008 with PKV Racing. However, following Champ Car’s unification with the Indy Racing League’s IndyCar Series, the team fields cars for Servià and Will Power in the unified IndyCar Series, under the KV Racing name following Dan Petitt’s departure.
January 1, 1965: NASCAR’s ban of the Hemi engine goes into effect, a major blow to Chrysler and several drivers, including Richard Petty and David Pearson. Two of NASCAR’s greatest drivers, Petty and Pearson will sit out the majority of the season, not returning until July in race No. 34 of the 55-race season. Each will qualify for 14 races in 1965.
December 31, 2011. Wayne Auton, the Truck Series director, announced that NASCAR testing would end at Rockingham Speedway in preparation for the debut of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on April 15, 2012. Testing is banned at facilities that host Truck, Nationwide, or Cup Series races. NASCAR’s return to “The Rock” marked the first visit for the Truck Series, and first racing by NASCAR’s top three series since 2004. While testing was ending at the main, 1 mile track, testing is still allowed at the half mile facility on the grounds known as “Little Rock.”
Kasey Kahne won the inaugural Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200 on April 15, 2012. With the announcement of the inclusion of Rockingham Speedway on the 2013 Truck Series schedule, the future looks to be bright for the famed race track.
December 26, 1986: President Ronald Reagan grants Junior Johnson a presidential pardon for his 1956 moonshining conviction. In response to the pardon, which restored his right to vote, Johnson said, “I could not have imagined anything better.”
Johnson, known as “The Last American Hero”, is famous for being one of the few NASCAR stars to have actually also been a moonshine runner, runner illegal spirits in the early days of his career as a means to support not only his racing, but his family as well.
Over the course of his NASCAR career, Johnson earned 182 victories, 50 as a driver and 132 as an owner. For his accomplishments, Junior Johnson was named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers in 1998, and inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010.
In May 2007, Piedmont Distillers in Madison, N.C. and Junior Johnson teamed up to introduce the company’s second moonshine product, called Midnight Moon. Johnson became part owner of Piedmont Distillers, the only legal distiller in North Carolina. Midnight Moon and the company’s other product, Catdaddy, are available in 37 states. Midnight Moon follows the Johnson family’s generations-old tradition of making moonshine. Every batch is born in an authentic, copper still and is handcrafted, in very small batches. The ‘shine is a 75-proof, legal version of his famous family recipe. Junior describes his moonshine as “Smoother than vodka. Better than whiskey. Best shine ever.”