There’s plenty for NASCAR fans to do in the Charlotte, NC area! The NASCAR Hall of Fame is our first stop on the Moonshine & Motorsports Trail
Eric Estepp, host of the NASCAR-themed YouTube channel Out of the Groove, was commissioned by the North Carolina Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources to travel the Moonshine & Motorsports Trail. The trail highlights North Carolina’s state history and the cultural impact on increased development across the state.
Estepp’s five-day journey was chronicled in a multi-part video series that can be found below.
The Moonshine & Motorsports Trail is also featured on Brennan Poole’s No. 6 Chevrolet at Charlotte Motor Speedway on NASCAR All-Star Weekend.
There’s plenty for NASCAR fans to do in the Charlotte, NC area! The NASCAR Hall of Fame is our first stop on the Moonshine & Motorsports Trail
Eric Estepp is beginning a brand new series on the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail. The trail is officially listed on the State of North Carolina’s website, and features stops at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Rockingham Speedway, the North Carolina Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the Albermarle, Occoneeche Speedway, Stone Mountain State Park, and North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Eric will be visiting sites along the trail specifically mentioning all four of the race tracks, the North Carolina Museum of Natural History, and Stone Mountain State Park. Episode one features a tour of the NASCAR Hall of Fame with former MRN pit reporter and current NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelly.
If you know Eric, you know he loves two things, Matt Kenseth and Lionel die-casts. It was only natural to start this journey off at the RFK Racing shop, one of multiple NASCAR shops in the Charlotte, North Carolina area.
After gawking at Matt Kenseth’s 2012 Daytona 500 winning car alongside looking at a Mark Martin show car, Eric got a behind the scenes look at RFK Racing. Specifically, he got a behind the scenes look at the pit crew preparation including the indoor weight room and the outdoor practice pit stop facility.
From there, it was on to the Concord Mills Mall, not far from Charlotte Motor Speedway. In the mall is the Lionel store, where multiple NASCAR die-casts can be found on display and ready to buy.
It was even mentioned that Lionel intends to celebrate the fifth anniversary of this store for the upcoming ROVAL weekend this fall. On top of that, Lionel will be hosting a poker run during the Coca-Cola 600 race weekend.
These stops were merely warm-up act for the big show, The NASCAR Hall of Fame. While Eric has been to the Hall of Fame and done content there before, this one is special because of the new pieces added to it, along with the additional expertise of Executive Director Winston Kelly.
Immediately, Glory Road meets those who enter the Hall of Fame. The cars on display change every three years, with the current cars on display honoring the 75 years of history that NASCAR has.
It was also not only Winston Kelly that would guide Eric on this tour today either. Kelly was joined by the Sr. Director of Museum and Industry Affairs Kevin Schleiser to give background on the pieces around the place.
In the Great Hall, Schlesier explains some of the cars on display that are meant to show the evolution of stock car racing, while also telling the story of family heritage in the sport along with the greats of the sport. The highlight of the cars on the floor of the Great Hall is Tony Stewart’s 2011 championship winning car straight from the track at Homestead-Miami.
Kelly went on to explain the specifics of this edition Glory Road. He described this edition as “Probably the most eclectic we have ever had.” It is there to show more about the span of NASCAR cars through the years.
Kelly went on to explain some of his favorite cars in this collection. These cars ranged from Adam Petty, to Darrell Waltrip’s 1 car he drove for Dale Earnhardt in 1998, Richard Petty’s iconic 1970s STP Dodge, Dale Earnhardt’s 1981 Pontiac (yes Pontiac), a Jimmie Johnson All-Star winning car, highlight his relationship with Chad Knaus, a late model, a Goody’s Dash Series car, and a Canadian Series car amongst others.
Every car within the display had a story. Every car had something to show for how stock car racing has evolved, and, coincidentally, how it impacted the industry that has impacted the state of North Carolina so much.
From there, it was on to the Hall of Honor, which recognizes the most recent NASCAR Hall of Famers. This years’ Hall of Famers being Matt Kenseth, Herschel McGriff and Kirk Shelmerdine. Eric particularly focused on the Kenseth exhibit because…you know.
The highlight of the Kenseth portion of the exhibit being maybe a surprising one. The car on display was not a Daytona 500 win or his championship car, but his first Busch Series win car. Kelly said that Kenseth insisted on having this car in the display.
To finish off the visit, an appropriate artifact. A full-operational moonshine still constructed by Junior Johnson. Famously pardoned by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, Johnson was one of the most well-known moonshiners of his day. Kelly and Schleiser went on to describe more about Johnson’s moonshining and how Johnson turned it into a working business.
As for whether the moonshine still would still work today? Kelly said that Johnson claimed that the still would work if he was allowed to get it rolling.
For more in-depth analysis on these pieces, check out Eric’s full video on his YouTube channel! More is to come from this series on Moonshine and Motorsports, and this is a trip that anyone can take throughout North Carolina.
After stopping at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to start the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail, Eric takes a detour to Mooresville, North Carolina to what he calls a “Hidden Gem.” That hidden gem is the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
According to their website, this museum has been around since 1994. The museum houses more than 40 cars from different disciplines of auto racing. Inductees are a who’s-who of auto racing legends including Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, Tony Stewart, and more.
Inside of the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame is nothing short of a spectacular collection. Cars from the early days of NASCAR up until the new millennium, plus little trinkets that make any NASCAR or auto racing fan’s eyes pop.
Eric starts the tour with a look at a 1940s Ford Coupe. A peek into the history of where NASCAR came from. Moonshiners tricking whatever car they had to make it go fast.
From there, it’s views of classic stock cars from all different era and even some different disciplines of motorsports. One car that a few may recognize is The Fabulous Hudson Hornet driven by NASCAR’s first two time champion, Herb Thomas.
Not only were there cars at the museum, but there were also pieces of memorabilia including diecasts and firesuits. A piece Eric found particularly intriguing was a Rusty Wallace scale model used for aerodynamic testing in the 1990s.
In addition to the older pieces in the museum, there were also pieces that were more modern. The one Eric took the most time looking at was a Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing 20 car.
Stewart made that 20 car famous during his first 10 Cup Series seasons winning two championships in 2002 and 2005. He also won a rookie record three races in his rookie season of 1999.
Not a planned pit stop on Eric’s Moonshine and Motorsports Trail, the North Carolina Motorsports Hall of Fame seems to have something for everyone. Eric will continue his tour through North Carolina to visit more historical sites on the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail.
The brand new Moonshine and Motorsports Trail will be featured as the primary sponsor on the JD Motorsports number 6 car driven by Brennan Poole at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27th. This is on Memorial Day weekend, the day before the Coca Cola 600.
There will also be a showcar on display featuring this scheme this weekend at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Youtuber Eric Estepp will be at a meetup by this car scheduled for 3 PM ET on Sunday May 21st.
The Moonshine and Motorsports Trail highlights the history of some of North Carolina’s biggest industries: stock car racing and moonshining. Current stops on the trail include Occoneechee Speedway, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Rockingham Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, Museum of the Albemarle, Stone Mountain State Park, the North Carolina Museum of History, and, of course, Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Eric Estepp has been featuring the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail on his YouTube Channel. He started the trail at the NASCAR Hall of Fame while also paying a visit to RFK Racing.
From there, Eric blazed a bit of his own trail. He would spend a day at the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Mooresville. Not an official stop on the trail, but still a worthwhile stop for fans of North Carolina Auto Racing history.
From there, Eric went to the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, which also houses the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. He also stopped by to see North Carolina Racing royalty at the Petty Museum in Level Cross.
Eric will be highlighting more of the Moonshine and Motorsports trail in more videos throughout the month of May. For more information on the Moonshine and Motorsports trail, visit the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources website.
Eric Estepp continues his trek along the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail. He starts off with a trip to the North Carolina State Capital in Raleigh to look at the North Carolina Museum of History and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. After that, he makes his way to Level Cross for a VIP tour of the Petty Museum.
Of course, there has to be some motorsports history the first time Eric walks into the museum. A Dale Earnhardt showcar from 2000 welcomes visitors.
From there Eric discusses more about the history of the State of North Carolina. This ranges from the state’s famous nickname “tar heels”, which Eric states comes from North Carolina’s history as the world’s leader in producing tar and related products.
Eric also gives a look at a replica of the first airplane flown by the Wright Brothers before looking at a late version of the Model T. Appropriate considering the history of moonshining in the state during the Great Depression. Eric mentions the importance of the fact that moonshining was done in a lot of instances to simply make money to provide for families during these lean times.
Many recognizable sports faces greet Eric as he enters the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Towards the back is the motorsports section of inductees which include faces like Richard and Lee Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress, Humpy Wheeler, and others.
Many other motorsports relics from trophies to firesuits to cars are on display as well. Eric stops along the way to talk to Secretary Reid Wilson of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Wilson explains the idea behind the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail.
He notes that it was the idea of Governor Roy Cooper, who put $1 million into the budget for this trail. He went on to say that they have come up with the “first” eight sites on the trail. He does not explicitly say more sites could be added.
After a quick pit stop for some North Carolina Barbecue, Eric makes his way to Level Cross to the Petty Museum. Eric’s friend Rowland invited Eric to the museum, but the one giving the tour was none other than race car driver and Richard Petty’s grandson Thad Moffitt.
To say there is a ton of Petty relics and collectibles would be an understtement. Cars, trophies, family heirlooms, and even relics from a race team long gone. There is even an entire room dedicated to Petty’s gun collection, of which, Moffitt mentions that Petty got the 43rd of any gun that there was more than 43 made of as a tribute to the iconic 43 car.
One of the cool cars in the museum is a recreation of the Lee Petty 42 car he used to win the first Daytona 500 in 1959. The real car, as Moffitt says, just does not exist anymore.
Richard’s winningest car from the 1966 and 1967 season is also on display. This car, as Moffitt says, is responsible for 36 wins. It was once a 1966 car, but a new nose was put on it in 1967.
The museum is also home to one of the most unique trophies in NASCAR history. As Moffitt says, Richard was tired of getting the same trophy, so NASCAR gave him a jukebox. The kicker is that the suit Richard wore when he accepted the trophy still fits him to this day.
From there, they walked into another part of the museum, which used to be a race shop back when the company was still Petty Enterprises. From there, it is more cars and more trophies, and even the former pit crew physical fitness center. Which was left untouched after the team moved shops in 2008.
Eric then walks over to the Reaper Shed, which was the original race shop for the Petty racing team back when Lee Petty was the only driver for the team. Everything, as Moffitt says, is as it was when the shop was operational.
To finish it off, it is a look at Richard’s first race car. A convertible from 1959.
That was part two of the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail. Eric will continue his trip along the trail through other landmarks in the State of North Carolina. If you want to see the first parts of the Moonshine and Motorsports trail, find them here.
Eric Estepp continued his trek along the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail by stopping by two historic North Carolina sites. The first site being one of NASCAR’s original tracks, Occoneechee Speedway. The second site being Stone Mountain State Park, where moonshine was manufactured during the early days of NASCAR.
Occoneechee Speedway is a place where it seems that time stands still. Relics dot the place including the flagstand, the grandstands, old concession stands complete with old school Pepsi logos, and old cars as well.
The track that hosted NASCAR from 1948 up until 1968 now exists as a nature trail. The trail follows the original track layout meaning the footprint of the track is still there to this day. Eric walked along that very trail, and describes the shape of the track as a Martinsville type shape.
Eric mentions that the track was once a horse racing track before Bill France saw it from a plane. France would go on to buy the land, expand the track, and it stayed on the schedule for many years. It was taken off in 1968 for Talladega Superspeedway according to Eric.
Another challenge for the track that Eric mentioned was its’ proximity to other race tracks such as Charlotte, North Wilkesboro, and Martinsville. Those tracks also offered higher purses than Occoneechee could have. However, its’ preservation makes certain that the track will forever keep its’ place in the history of North Carolina.
From the race track in Occoneechee, Eric moves to the moonshine trails of Stone Mountain State Park. Driving into the park, Eric made his way down some windy roads that were used oftentimes to transport moonshine. He even makes mention that cars were specifically modified to better navigate some of these roads to outrun the “revenuers”.
Eric walked down the nature trail to the falls at the park. While walking through these hills, it is easy to see why moonshining was so popular. Still could easily be hidden in these hills as they were camouflaged by the trees, and, as Eric mentions, almost 200 stills have been found in the hills.
Eric drives towards the Wilkes County side of the park. The county that was the home of one of North Carolina’s most famous moonshiners Junior Johnson and North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Eric called the roads he walked on, “A very important stretch of road to the beginnings of NASCAR.” The moonshine run through the roads to make money and put food on the table for families.
Eric even offers insight into some of the tricks drivers would pull. These included oil slicks and tossing sharp metal pieces to blow out tires. Either way, these roads are vital to the history of Moonshine and Motorsports.
From here, Eric will take on the next step of the trail. That being the North Wilkesboro Speedway in Wilkes County. The site of the NASCAR All Star Race.
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