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Moonshine & Motorsports Trail: Abandoned Tracks and Moonshine Trails (Ep. 4)

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Joshua Lipowski

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NASCAR 75th Anniversary Commemorative Magazine

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

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.

Stone Mountain State Park

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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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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