North Wilkesboro Speedway set to return from the grave

The famed short track hasn’t hosted a NASCAR race since 1996

North Wilkesboro Speedway hosted NASCAR events between 1949-1996. However, the track has seen very little attention since 1996 outside of one-off short track events.

It’s a 0.625-mile oval with a backstretch and front stretch that goes up and down in elevation. The track is a fan favorite yet it’s been out of sight for nearly three decades.

In August, Dale Earnhardt Jr spoke in favor of funding to support the speedway. That followed an effort in 2019 when Earnhardt, Marcus Smith and others cleaned up the racing facility, which was in the process of being reclaimed by nature. Following the cleaning, the track was scanned by iRacing and placed into the digital world.

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper signed a $25.9B budget into law for the state. Of that, $40 million is allocated to three race tracks.

Race tracks in NC budget: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Rockingham Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway.

$18 million of that budget is set for Wilkes County upgrades. Specifically, “to coordinate with relevant local government units for water and sewer and related infrastructure projects for service to the North Wilkesboro Speedway.”

Marcus Smith and Dale Earnhardt Jr at North Wilkesboro
Marcus Smith and Dale Earnhardt Jr at North Wilkesboro

Marcus Smith comments

I’d like to thank Gov. Roy Cooper, House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and all our state legislators for their support of motorsports and economic development in the new state budget,” Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith stated.

“The allocated funds from the American Rescue Plan are investments in the future for the motorsports and tourism industries of North Carolina.”

“While Charlotte Motor Speedway is considered modern by many standards, it’s still more than 60 years old and in need of infrastructure improvements to maintain its position as an attractive venue for world-class events. We’ll use the state allocation toward upgrading fan amenities along our frontstretch, and we’ll have more details to share at a later date as we prepare for the Coca-Cola 600 next May.

“The allocation toward North Wilkesboro provides the starting capital needed to rebuild the infrastructure of the historic facility. With state budget amounts now finalized, we can zero in on project priorities and determine work schedules. The goal will be to modernize the property so that it can host racing and special events again in the future.

“I’d also like to thank all the members of the Wilkes County community who have donated their time and hard work to help demolish old buildings and clear brush and debris. We are truly grateful for what you’ve already done, and we look forward to rebuilding North Wilkesboro Speedway.”


North Wilkesboro Speedway | Rockingham Speedway | Charlotte Motor Speedway | SMI | NASCAR