NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — North Wilkesboro Speedway will wave the green flag Tuesday on its first race in more than a decade, with thousands of fans expected to attend one of the most anticipated events in the track’s history.
Promoters said the work at the storied speedway to get it ready for Tuesday night’s event wasn’t a remodel but instead a revival of the grassroots, short-track racing the speedway was known for during its heyday.
When fans and drivers walk into North Wilkesboro Speedway there is a special feeling of accomplishment, knowing that racing has returned.
“Not something I ever thought would happen, but here we are,” driver and race fan Joe Jackson said.
For years, many thought the roar of engines around the .625-mile short track would never happen again, but they’ve been proved wrong. An entire month of racing started on Monday with a “test and tune” day. Race trailers filled the infield after lining the streets outside the speedway for more than a mile.
“This is the day that it begins,” Brandon Brown of xrEvents said. “The people are here. The drivers are here. The teams are here, and it’s real.”
Some drivers were at the track for the first time, including Brandon Setzer, who was just a child when the track closed in 1996.
“The local short track racing community is very strong right now, and I think there are a lot of people in the Wilkesboro area that just love racing and have missed it for a lot of years,” Setzer said.
Although it has been years since NASCAR raced at North Wilkesboro, a familiar-looking car showed up on Monday to turn laps, a 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix once driven by Rusty Wallace.
“Well, this is just such a historical race track,” Jackson said. “This car is home here. There is Rockingham and Darlington and this; those three were the ones I had to get the car on the track at some point. This was the last one I had to check off the box.”
A throwback-style car on a track that hasn’t lost its roots. Work on the speedway has been going on since April, but some of the original paint, signage and even concession stands still remain.
“We are trying to give fans the experience that they would have had not only 10 years ago, but 25 years ago,” Brown said. “We revitalized it, made it safe for fans, accessible for fans. but we wanted to give them that old school experience.”
The old-school experience will also be able to be enjoyed at night. The plan is to have every race in August end under temporary lighting brought in by race organizers.
Speedway leaders are also offering free parking for race fans all month long at several grass lots surrounding the speedway.
For more information about the upcoming races, as well as how to buy tickets, click here.