Fan-favorite North Wilkesboro Speedway was a part of NASCAR since the beginning. It first held a race the year the sport was founded in 1949. The remained track remained a mainstay of the schedule until 1996, when new and current owner Speedway Motorsports controversially replaced its date in the schedule with other racetracks it owns, including Texas and Atlanta.
No one has been more vocal about keeping it alive than Dale Earnhardt, Jr, though. Back in 2020, after petitioning NASCAR for years to bring it back to the schedule, he worked with NASCAR’s partners at iRacing to scan the track for virtual racing, and produced a documentary alongside that. “It won’t be here for much longer if it continues to decay,” Earnhardt said at the time.
With renewed support for the track, the state of North Carolina set aside $18 million in its budget for infrastructure improvements at the track, creating a reborn facility for racing. And that racing has been confirmed. XR Events, which has produced races at Las Vegas, Texas, and Bristol Motor Speedways, will host events billed as a “Racetrack Revival” series.
The races will be run in August and October. The August races will be on the old pavement surface, with drivers in Late Models, Street Stocks, Pro Late Models, Limited Late Models, Open Wheel Modifieds, Late Model Stocks and Hornets. Then, in preparation for a 2023 repave, the speedway will rip up the asphalt and run Super Late Models, 410 Sprint Cars, Big Block Modifieds, Street Stocks, Open Wheel Modifieds, 602 Crate Late Models, 604 Crate Late Models, Stock Cars and Hornets on dirt.
“As we begin the process of bringing North Wilkesboro Speedway back to life, this is a great opportunity for the historic short track to host grassroots racing and allow our team to learn more about what needs be done before a grand re-opening in the future,” Speedway Motorsports President Marcus Smith said. “Our vision is to revive this venue into a multi-use entertainment facility, but racing will always be the core product. We know fans and competitors will enjoy ‘kicking the tires’ alongside us with some live competition this year as we begin renovations.”
Smith indicated that he was in talks with NASCAR to bring televised national series racing to North Wilkesboro in the future, as he showed the renderings pictured here. For now, there will at least be racing for the first time in a decade.
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