NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Months of work all come down to this. North Wilkesboro Speedway will wave the green flag Tuesday on its first race in about a decade. Thousands of fans are expected to attend one of the most anticipated events in the track’s history.
Race promoters say the work at the storied speedway wasn’t a remodel, but instead a revival of the grassroots, short track racing the speedway is known for.
When fans and drivers alike walk into North Wilkesboro Speedway there is a special feeling. It’s a feeling of accomplishment, knowing that racing has returned.
“Not something I ever thought would happen, but here we are,” said driver and race fan, Joe Jackson.
For years many thought engines would never roar around the .625-mile short track again, but now that it’s August the naysayers are proven wrong.
An entire month of racing started with a “test and tune” day on Monday. Race trailers lined the infield after lining the streets outside the speedway for more than a mile.
“This is the day that it begins. The people are here, the drivers are here, the teams are here and it’s real,” said Brandon Brown from xrEvents
Some drivers were at the track for the first time, including Brandon Setzer, who was just a child when the track closed in 1996.
“The local short track racing community is very strong right now and I think there are a lot of people in the Wilkesboro area that just love racing and have missed it for a lot of years,” said Setzer.
Although it has been years since NASCAR raced at North Wilkesboro, a familiar-looking car showed up on Monday to turn laps, a 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix was once driven by Rusty Wallace.
“Well, this is just such a historical race track. This car is home here. There is Rockingham and Darlington and this, those three were the ones I had to get the car on the track at some point. This was the last one I had to check off the box,” said Joe Jackson.
A throwback-style car on a track that hasn’t lost its roots. Work on this speedway has been ongoing since April, but some of the original paint, signage and even concession stands still remain.
“We are trying to give fans the experience that they would have had not only 10 years ago, but 25 years ago. We revitalized it, made it safe for fans, accessible for fans but we wanted to give them that old school experience,” said Brown.
The old school experience will also be able to be enjoyed at night. The plan is to have every race in August end under temporary lighting that was brought in by race organizers.
Speedway leaders are also offering free parking for race fans all month long at several grass lots surrounding the speedway.
For more information about the upcoming races, as well as how to buy tickets, click here.