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North Wilkesboro Prepares For Historic NASCAR Return

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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Wilkes County, N.C. hopes that NASCAR's Return will breathe new life into the Wilkesboro community

What’s Happening?

While there may be a lot of controversy surrounding the potential return of NASCAR to the Nashville Fairgrounds, another legendary short track and small town in North Wilkesboro is ecstatic for the return of racing at the iconic facility.

The small business owners of Wilkes County, North Carolina are stocking up and gearing up to host the largest tourist crowd they’ve seen since 1996.

You Need To Know:

  • North Wilkesboro is one of the oldest racetracks on the NASCAR circuit today. The track opened in may of 1947 and hosted NASCAR Cup Series races through the 1996 Cup Series season after being acquired by Speedway Motorsports Incorporated. After purchasing the track in the mid 1990s, SMI closed the track and offered its two race dates on the calendar to the newly constructed Texas Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway respectively. This move in ownership put a chokehold on the small businesses of the Wilkesboro community as they lost the added bi-annual revenue in the area.
  • After the original closure, the track would be opened once again in both 2009 and 2010 to host local short track racing but neither stints would last more than a year. With an episode of Lost Speedways hosted by NASCAR legend, Dale Earnhardt Jr., it would appear that the facility was lost to the times with weeds growing through the cracks of the tracks abrasive pavement. That was until he, along with his Dirty Mo Media crew and iRacing, took to the track to clean it up for a virtual scan of the racing surface. With the 2021 Pro Invitational iRacing event and the subsequent late model races run during the month of August 2022, fan interest had reached a peak it hadn’t in nearly three decades. After a successful month of racing in mid-to-late 2022 and the announcement of NASCAR holding its All-Star event at the track, it would seem that racing is back in the hills of western North Carolina and the small town of Wilkesboro can once again shine a spotlight on their prized historic racetrack.
  • Fans of NASCAR racing, young and old, seem to be very excited about NASCAR’s return to one of its OG tracks. Many fans have stated that they will be there in person and hope that this is truly a success so that Wilkesboro can remain on the NASCAR schedule for years to come. Meanwhile, others remain cautiously optimistic but also point out that the traffic will be the biggest hinderance as the small Wilkesboro community is not prepared to handle an event of that nature and size.

Whether a yay-sayer or a nay-sayer, the All-Star race at Wilkesboro is happening and the small business owners and citizens are excited for the potential shot in the arm the event can give to their local economy. North Wilkesboro welcomes NASCAR home later this month.

The Main Character

Highlighting this story is the people of Wilkes County, North Carolina. Racing has a long-storied history in the town and when NASCAR packed its bags and left in 1996, they lost their primary claim to fame. Now with racing returning, however, they hope that this new-old attraction can once again breathe life into their local economy.

Around The Garage

NASCAR legend and Hall-of-Famer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was honored to create the format for this year’s All-Star event. He has long been a champion of bringing racing back to the historic short track, even running in a CARS Tour late model stock even last August. He will once again strap into his No. 3 green Sundrop car during All-Star week for the CARS Tour race in May.

In The Stands

Johnmanley7859 says that with so many NASCAR tracks living and dying, it’s good to see one come back from the dead.

missyhammons wishes everyone, from the racers, to the track operators, to the local small business owners, luck. Her boyfriend can’t believe that it isn’t a dream.

missyhammons then comes back to comment this. She’s ready for flags to be flying over the Wilkesboro start-finish line.

SpenceSmithback on Reddit warns fans of major traffic congestion, stating that the area is not equipped to handle an event of this size.

joshjarnagin claps back, stating that they’ve handled massive crowds even bigger before and that they surely should be able to handle All-Star weekend.

So, Daily Downforce readers, are you excited about North Wilkesboro returning to the NASCAR schedule this month? Do potential traffic issues concern you? Or do you acknowledge them as a reality but are still excited to see the legendary occasion? Let us know! And stay right here for more developing NASCAR stories.

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Picture of Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
All Posts