Dale Earnhardt Jr gathered a group to help clean North Wilkesboro Speedway and preserve it forever
North Wilkesboro Speedway opened in May 18, 1947. The 0.625-mile track is located in North Carolina and collected fans worldwide.
Enoch Staley visited a NASCAR race in South Carolina. He was so impressed that he decided to build a track of his own.
Stanley and partners Lawson Curry, Jack Combs, and Charlie Combs purchased farmland and turned it into a race track. However, the small budget forced them to cut corners.
That’s exactly what made the track so unique. Instead of a flat surface, the track has an uphill backstretch and a downhill frontstretch. They saved money by not leveling it.
The track opened as a dirt track. In the first event, it drew a modest crowd of 10,000. Though only 3,000 were expected.
The track later became a paved oval. It hosted the NASCAR Cup Series between 1949-96. Richard Petty has the most wins at the track with 15. The last race was won by newcommer Jeff Gordon.
The track was closed in 1996. Bruton Smith moved the Spring race to his new Texas Motor Speedway. The Fall race was moved to New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Fans have been pissed ever since.
Between 2009-11, several late model divisions hosted events at the track. USAR ProCup Series, ASA Late Model Series and Pass Late Models all visited the track.
In 2011, the Pro All Stars Series opened their schedule at the track with an event paying $75,000 to win. Chris Eggleston won the event.
Dale Earnhardt Jr’s quest to save North Wilkesboro
The track remains owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. Though, at this point, it’s highly unlikely that the track ever hosts racecars again. At least in real life.
Computer form, that’s a different story. The track can live on forever in digital format.
Back in September Dale Jr tweeted, “Asked @iRacingMyers & @iRacing to scan North Wilksboro for preservation. Even if they don’t create it, they’ll have the data. He said the surface would need to be cleared of weeds to do it. I can get the keys to the gate. Who wants to help me do the landscaping??”
On Monday, that idea came to life. Dale Earnhardt Jr went to turning laps at the track, on a sweeper.
“She’s getting a trim for an important date with @iRacing,” Dale Earnhardt Jr tweeted with a live photo from North Wilkesboro.
The crew removed all the weeds from the track as rain fell on a cold winter afternoon. The pavement was cleaned and the scanning devices were set to be turned loose on what looked like a race-ready track.
“Having spent the day walking this track I am excited to get this in iRacing. The elevation change from each end of the track is so unique. I have to thank Marcus Smith and all the guys from Bristol Motor Speedway and Clarlotte Motor Speedway for all the heavy lifting they did on this. It was a big job,” iRacing president Steve Myers tweeted.
iRacing is an online motorsports simulation service. With the scanned data, the track can be re-created to precision in the online world.
North Wilkesboro coming is coming to iRacing #soon.