Photo Gallery | New effort to save historic North Wilkesboro Speedway
NORTH WILKESBORO - It was one of the first tracks in the country to host a NASCAR race and the one most closely identified with the sport's bootlegging beginnings.
The North Wilkesboro Speedway hosted its last NASCAR race in 1996, and while it has hosted smaller events up until last year, it is now closed again. But that could change. One group is lobbying hard for fan support and donations through social media to save the North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Few tracks speak to the history of NASCAR like the North Wilkesboro Speedway. But changing times left this track behind. NASCAR needed dates for big, new tracks in bigger markets and the engine's roar left this legendary half mile.
"I was just wondering about that the other day with nothing going on there," said local resident Hollis Fall.
Up the road at the Run In, the lunch counter is busy. When the track was opened it brought a lot of business here, and there is hope that may happen again.
"It would be good for the county," said store manager Debbie Ashley. "There's a lot of people that want it back up, it would be a lot of work, be a lot of effort in it, but it would be great for the county."
Now the hopes are pinned on a group called Save The Speedway. Around since 2005, the group is using social media to raise money for much needed repairs to the track. The organizer told WBTV they are in a 75 day campaign to raise $250,000.
The upgrades might attract the attention of a racing sanctioning body and they could bring some type of events back here. It could be any type of racing, even the NASCAR Truck Series is a possibility, according to the organizer.
The money would go to hire staff, refit the office, permits, licenses, and many other items on a punch list that need to be fixed.
The organizer says if it doesn't work out, the money will be returned to the donors.
Locals are hopeful, they know that the track can generate a lot of business.
"It would be a good thing, it would help the economy, I know that." Ashley added.
But beyond the potential impact to the economy, the fond memories of the racing at North Wilkesboro mean this track has always been a strong source of local pride.
The North Wilkesboro Speedway is still owned by Bruton Smith and Speedway Motorsports, but they have been open to allowing sanctioning bodies to run races at the track.
To learn more about the efforts of Save The Speedway, follow this link: http://www.facebook.com/#!/NorthWilkesboroSpeedway