NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (May 18, 2023) – The North Wilkesboro Speedway is back after nearly three decades since its last race, thanks to a little help from an $18-million state-funded grant. Since 1996, NASCAR’s .625-mile long track has been deserted off US Highway 421. In 2007, Speedway Motorsports acquired pure ownership of the track, exactly 60 years after the first race ran there, which took place on May 18, 1947, nearly a year before NASCAR was founded and exactly 76 years ago today. With roots as deep as this track, what better way to celebrate NASCAR’s 75th anniversary than hosting the All-Star Race where it all began, “The Moonshine Capital of the World”.
For 45 years, NASCAR hosted two premier races a year at North Wilkesboro Speedway beginning in 1951. During that time, Richard Childress Racing had several employees take on the historic track. Executive Vice President Mike Dillon ran late model stock cars in the early ‘90s at North Wilkesboro. Dillon first ran at the speedway in 1993, starting on the pole and finishing third. In 1994 and 1995, Dillon won both of his late model races he ran at one of the sport’s oldest tracks. Bringing back a track to the circuit where Dillon was successful is an opportunity unlike any other.
(Photo Credit: Mike Dillon)
Mike Dillon in victory lane at North Wilkesboro after winning in 1995.
“Any place you run good is obviously a fun place to go back to. The biggest difference will more than likely be the concrete that they’ve got around the track for the new wall and seeing what the guys are going to do with that, and if they’re going to try and use that for traction,” said Dillon.
(Photo Credit: Clay Alexander)
Mike Alexander races the No. 71 at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Other RCR employees who have history with the most historical track added back to the circuit are No. 8 hauler driver, Jerry Tuttle, and Xfinity Series shop foreman, Marty Houston. Tuttle took to the track in the late ‘80s and Houston ran there in the early ‘90s. Other RCR employee ties include No. 8 car chief Clay Alexander. Clay’s father, Mike Alexander raced throughout the 1980s and early ‘90s at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
(Photo Credit: Jerry Tuttle)
Jerry Tuttle ran several times at North Wilkesboro Speedway throughout the 1980s.
What was once a dirt track that ran modifieds, turned into a fixture on the NASCAR schedule in the years that followed. On that schedule, under the RCR banner, was driver Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt won at North Wilkesboro five times total, taking the checkered flag in 1986, ‘87, ‘89, ‘91, and ‘95, making him the third most winningest driver at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
North Wilkesboro Speedway’s revival can be attributed to the community’s support of rallying behind the revitalization and Speedway Motorsports owner Marcus Smith. Updates to the speedway include renovations to the suite boxes, infield grading and preparations on the track to install safer barriers. The most important thing that was kept in mind when rebuilding this speedway was preserving the history. Other improvements that fans can expect to see are the updated scoring tower, re-installation of a manual lap count and top-five scoreboard, along with installing lights for the track and paving the infield garage areas.
(Photo Credit: RCR)
Photos from the Spring tire test at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
North Wilkesboro Speedway may still look old, but it’s going to run as good as new according to Marcus Smith. Catch the All-Star action this weekend beginning with the pit-crew challenge at 5:30 p.m. on Friday on FS1. Saturday’s heat races will begin at 7 p.m. on FS1 to determine starting positions for Sunday’s race. Sunday’s All-Star Open Race will begin at 5 p.m. followed by the long-awaited race at 8 p.m. EST.