North Wilkesboro Speedway is Back, Sort Of

North Wilkesboro Speedway is Back, Sort Of

by April 16, 2022 0 comments

The last time NASCAR visited North Wilkesboro Speedway was in September of 1996, a race won by Dale Earnhardt Sr. A track that had been a staple in NASCAR dating back to the late 40s was cast aside for expansionist tracks like Texas, New Hampshire, and Las Vegas. The North Carolina short track losing its two NASCAR Cup Series dates has long been a sore spot among fans, and residents of North Wilkesboro. Seeing as they lost both dates as the Cup schedule expanded from 32 to 36 races after that last race, some hard feelings are somewhat warranted.

Now over a quarter of a century later, NASCAR, along with SMI had some news to share just hours ago. North Wilkesboro will see racing again as early as this year. While not NASCAR this year, there will be a ton of local racing starting this summer, including dirt racing on the original dirt surface. As for NASCAR, SMI’s Marcus Smith had something to say on that front as well.

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Blast From the Past

In regards to 2022, there will be plenty of racing at North Wilkesboro. For the entire month of August, there will be grassroots racing taking place on the track surface as is, which hasn’t been touched in literal decades. Then starting in October, that layer of asphalt will get taken out, for the original dirt surface to be used once again. The track began as a dirt circuit back in the 1940s. After that is over, the track will undergo a full repave in 2023.

A big part in why a return to racing is taking place is Dale Earnhardt Jr. The former Cup Series driver was big in getting the track scanned for iRacing a few years ago. Cup Series drivers ended up racing there on the simulator during the early days of the pandemic as a matter of fact. That race ended up being won by Denny Hamlin. 

A NASCAR Reunion?

Now as it relates to NASCAR, North Wilkesboro may have to wait for any of the top series to show up. SMI President Marcus Smith pretty much ruled out the Cup and Xfinity Series returning at this time. This is due to both the size of North Wilkesboro, along with the infrastructure. However, Smith said that the track would be “A great destination” for the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series. Furthermore, the SMI leader gave a conservative ballpark guess that the earliest that could happen is in 2024. Obviously, this comes as a disappointment to many fans who wanted to see Cup Series racing return to North Wilkesboro. Hopefully, Smith and SMI change their tune moving forward.

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