NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A distillery at the heart of NASCAR’S origins will have a major presence during All-Star Race week when it comes to a track oozing with tradition this month. 

NASCAR has roots in the illegal moonshining trade in the early to middle of the 20th century, and Call Family Distillers is the perfect partner to become the Official Moonshine of North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Wilkes County in the 1940s through the 1960s was the epicenter of the booming moonshine industry in North Carolina. That’s when Willie Clay Call made a name for himself and for the county by hauling his famed moonshine all over the state, the distillery website says, even working with NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson. 

Call drove a 1961 Chrysler New Yorker Golden Lion Edition for hauling the product. It’s said he carried two, sometimes three loads a night to Charlotte and Winston-Salem in the car. Call had the motor polished and balanced to pull all the power he could from the motor. 

The modern products created by the Call family in Wilkes County. (HHP/Harold Hinson)

On May 16, the short-track speedway hosts its first NASCAR race since 1996. In addition to Call’s modernized moonshine being distributed to race fans flocking to the historic facility, the winning drivers will receive trophies designed after the ‘shine-making process from yesteryear. It’s a copper replica of a still with “Born to Shine” written on the middle piece and attached to a slab of engraved wood. 

The custom-built still trophies will be some of the most sought-after items during NASCAR All-Star Race week. Growing larger for each race of the week and culminating in a trophy that has been said will take two people to carry for the NASCAR All-Star Race winner. 

“NASCAR and moonshining were locked arm in arm during the sport’s early days and many of the greatest drivers got their start bootlegging in fast cars through the backroads of Wilkes County,” said Jessica Fickenscher, executive director of the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. “We’re thrilled to have Call Family Distillers provide these unique moonshine still trophies. They will provide a great tribute to NASCAR’s early days with a throwback feel that winners during NASCAR All-Star Race week will cherish.” 

Call Family Distillers was founded in Wilkesboro in 2014 by Call’s son, Brian. And in addition to moonshines, also creates cinnamon liquor, sour mash whiskey and apple brandy. At the speedway for All-Star week, the company will launch The Checkered Past Speakeasy. 

The retro space will offer a wide variety of cocktail recipes served with Call Family Distillers products and will be decorated with an amazing collection of vintage NASCAR racing memorabilia.  

“The Checkered Past Speakeasy is going to be a can’t-miss attraction for adult guests when they visit North Wilkesboro Speedway during NASCAR All-Star Race week,” Fickensche said. “We’re keeping history front and center during race week, and we are proud to offer this vintage speakeasy in conjunction with Call Family Distillers.”