NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — All-Star Week is here, and the engines are getting started at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
At 8 p.m. Tuesday, North Wilkesboro Speedway will host the late-model ECMD 150, the first race of All-Star Week, as part of ASA STARS National Tour. The ECMD 150 is the third race of the inaugural ASA STARS National Tour schedule and third of the ASA Southern Super Series schedule.
Leading up to the first big race, guests can watch practice, including the CARS Solid Rock Carriers Tour, and the ASA STARS qualifying race.
- 1 p.m. — Ticket office and grandstands open, first practice begins
- 2 p.m. — Second practice begins
- 3 p.m. — CARS Solid Rock Carriers Tour rotating practice session begins
- 4:45 p.m. — ASA STARS qualifying race
- 5;30 p.m. — Last chance race (if needed)
- 6:15 p.m — Autograph session with ASA STARS
- 7:30 p.m. — Pre-race ceremonies
- 8 p.m. — Race begins!
The ticket office and grandstands will open to the public at 1 p.m. as the ASA STARS first practice takes place. A second practice follows at 2 p.m.
The CARS Solid Rock Carriers Tour will hold a rotating practice session at 3 p.m.
ASA STARS will hold a qualifying race at 4:45 p.m. and a last-chance race if needed at 5:30 p.m.
An autograph session with ASA STARS will take place at 6:15 p.m. before pre-race ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m.
Finally, the race itself will start at 8 p.m.
Fans should keep an eye on the weather forecast as Wilkes County will be under an “enhanced” or level three risk of severe weather. The storms could begin to develop as early as 3 p.m., but the highest risk is between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. While there’s a 15% chance of damaging wind and hail in Wilkes County, the severe weather possibly will have moved further east by race time.
General admission tickets for the ECMD 500 can be purchased via Ticketmaster. Children 6 and under can attend for free. The event will also be livestreamed by FloRacing.
ASA STARS National Tour
If you’re unfamiliar, the American Speed Association was a sanctioning body of motorsports, like NASCAR or IndyCar. Rex and Becky Robbins founded ASA in 1968. Over time ASA evolved to primarily focus on super late model racing. The Robbins ultimately sold the series in 2003, and ASA went out of business a few years later. NASCAR, aiming to preserve ASA’s history, bought up the intellectual property rights.
Fast forward to 2022, Track Enterprises acquired multiple regional tours, including the ARCA/CRA Super Series and JEGS All-Stars Tour, and partnered with the Southern Super Series. The partnership allowed Track Enterprises to launch a new national tour for pavement super late model racing and revive the ASA name.
“Since the decline of ASA in the early 2000s, race fans and other industry insiders have sought a replacement,” Track Enterprises President Bob Sargent said in a December 2022 news release. “We couldn’t be any prouder to not only bring short track fans a national series for super late model racing, but now to also bring back the historic brand of ASA.”
North Wilkesboro Speedway
Enoch Staley built his track in North Wilkesboro in 1947 so that they could have a safer, official place to settle the arguments about who had the fastest car and the best driver.
“The historical value of this track is we have always been told that this track was the first track ever sanctioned by NASCAR. Not the first track, but the first track ever sanctioned by NASCAR, and that’s a big component right there,” Terri Parsons, widow of the late NASCAR Hall of Famer Benny Parsons, said.
Fonty Flock — one of the famous Flock brothers — won the first race there on May 18, 1947, and it continued to be an essential track through 1996 when Terry Labonte won the First Union 400 there in April. Jeff Gordon won the last event ever held at the Speedway by winning the Holly Farms 400 at the end of September 1996.
Two different people bought part ownership in 1995, including Bruton Smith‘s Speedway Motorsports. While it’s known they bought it so they could move race dates to other venues they owned, but they never tore down North Wilkesboro. The speedway simply stood like a fortress against the tide of time as nature took its course.
Then, beginning in 2022, North Wilkesboro Speedway transitioned from a ghost track on the brink of extinction, with dilapidated buildings and deteriorating infrastructure, to a 21st-century facility with an old-school feel.
The revival began several years before when Dale Earnhardt Jr. convinced the online racing simulation iRacing to scan the track for its service. The virtual North Wilkesboro Speedway debuted on iRacing with perfect timing to be used as a racing forum by NASCAR as the world entered the 2020 pandemic shutdown.
In April 2022, the first huge announcement about North Wilkesboro Speedway came in a press conference at Bristol Motor Speedway. Racing was coming back to North Wilkesboro in the late summer of 2022. It was dubbed, “Racetrack Revival” and featured a month of racing by many classes of racers you’d find at local tracks across the nation. The Wilkes County manager later said that the events of August 2022 generated roughly $500,000 in new tax revenue for the county.
In September 2022 it was announced that NASCAR would host the 2023 All-Star race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. The county was receiving $18 million in tax funds earmarked to use at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Speedway Motorsports was all in, and in the months since it nearly finished turning North Wilkesboro Speedway into a modern facility with an old-school vibe.