NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Racing is coming back to the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Speedway Motorsports announced on Saturday that the historic venue will host racing on the .625-mile track in August and October.
XR Events will hold a multi-week grassroots racing event on the current asphalt track at the Speedway in August. After that event, the repaving process will begin and existing asphalt will be removed.
Another multi-week grassroots racing event is planned for October with drivers racing on dirt.
The facility will be much the same as it is today, cleaned up but not refurbished. It will look like the old North Wilkesboro Speedway that people remember from years ago while hosting two months of racing before being rebuilt into a modern, but classical, 21st-century facility.
“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 to be done before a grand re-opening in the future,” said Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith.
North Wilkesboro Speedway hosted NASCAR races and events with regularity for nearly 50 years before closing in 1996. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon won the last NASCAR event at the speedway, the 1996 Tyson Holly Farms 400.
The track was briefly reopened in 2010 to host a series of stock car races but was shut down again in 2011
The August racing will be on the asphalt with events scheduled almost every day of the week with classes listed as Hornets, Super Late Models, Late Models and Open Wheel Modifieds.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for competitors and short track race fans to experience North Wilkesboro Speedway one more time on the old asphalt and then on dirt as it first began,” XR Events CEO Barry Braun said.
“We have a lot of work to do with sanctioning bodies and competitors to get ready for August, but we’re committed to producing an event that both fans and racers will remember for a lifetime,” Braun added.
In October, the racing will be on dirt with classes for late models, dirt modifieds and sprint cars.
“When you look at August and October and you’ve got a full month of racing, there are lots of dates in the calendar. We anticipate that there’ll be some professional drivers that will come in from the bigger series, like Cup, Xfinity and truck. And like I said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them come in from around the world,” Smith said.
“Awesome news about North Wilkesboro coming back to life. It’ll be great to catch some of the action there this fall. Do we tailgate the infield like old times? I can’t wait to discuss it on Tuesday with @MikeDavis88 and the @DirtyMoMedia family,” said NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earndhart Jr. on Twitter.
After this fall’s racing events Speedway Motorsports will embark on a plan to rebuild the 75-year-old facility using the $18 million American Rescue Plan money that was announced last year. It is anticipated that racing would then resume at North Wilkesboro in 2024.
“You know, for me, I just thought what an awesome opportunity this is to revive this historical landmark and such a jewel in Western North Carolina,” Smith said.
Smith said North Wilkesboro will be perfect for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but at this point that is only hopeful thinking. NASCAR hasn’t announced any scheduling far enough out that could include North Wilkesboro on a 2024 schedule.
“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 concluded.