Speedway Motorsports Shares Vision to Revive North Wilkesboro Speedway for Future NASCAR Races

For more than a quarter of a century, North Wilkesboro Speedway has stood as a petrified reminder of the cost of NASCAR’s growth—a racetrack left behind in the name of stock car racing’s national expansion. But North Wilkesboro, NC has never truly been forgotten, and a new life for the speedway may soon turn from a dream into a reality.

On Thursday night at the Wilkes County Chamber of Commerce’s 75th Membership Celebration, Marcus Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., shared his company’s vision for the reopening and future of North Wilkesboro Speedway, which has hosted NASCAR races from its inception. season of the sport in 1949 until the track closed in 1996.

The prospect of revitalizing the historic speedway was recently made possible by North Carolina’s 2021-2022 state budget, which allocated $18 million to infrastructure improvements at the track as part of the U.S. rescue plan. While Smith noted that work still needs to be done on the speedway’s facilities and infrastructure, he presented a conceptual future of the speedway through a series of displays demonstrating both a return to NASCAR and alternative use as an entertainment facility.

“In the automotive world, I would call it a resto mod. It looks old, but it will work like new,” said Smith. “When you think of nostalgic opportunities, this is one of those one-in-a-million odds. We hope to celebrate history and look forward to the future. North Wilkesboro Speedway is a great, historic place for NASCAR. It’s almost like “Fenway Park is for baseball. I think with this money from the state and the US bailout plan we can make some dreams come true at North Wilkesboro Speedway.”

Smith specifically mentioned the “real possibility” of the track hosting a future NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, an idea supported by Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis.

North Wilkesboro went from being one of NASCAR’s original speedways to a relic of the sport’s past when the track was purchased in the mid-1990s by Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO, Bruton Smith, following the death of track founder Enoch. staley. With the track becoming obsolete and NASCAR seeking races in larger and more glamorous markets, North Wilkesboro’s two dates on the NASCAR schedule were sent to SMI’s new Texas Motor Speedway and the Bob Bahre-owned New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which owns the share. owned by the Staley family in 1996.

Although the track has since been abandoned – apart from a two-year revival at the base in the early 2010s – the idea of ​​revitalizing the speedway and restoring it to its former glory has become a passion project for Marcus Smith and, the son of Bruton, as well as local volunteer groups. Volunteering included those in the NASCAR industry, such as when Dale Earnhardt Jr. attempted to clean the track’s surface in 2019 so that it could be scanned by iRacing and stored virtually.

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