The historic .625-mile short track successfully hosted NASCAR competition this past weekend – a Truck series race and the NASCAR All-Star Race – for the first time since 1996.
It didn’t come easy, requiring much convincing of state and local government officials Speedway Motorsports president Marcus Smith not to mention $18 million in money from the N.C. state government for infrastructure improvements.
While Sunday night’s All-Star Race may not have produced the fireworks on the track many were hoping, the atmosphere over the entire week with capacity crowds was certainly electric.
Speedway Motorsports has already begun conversations with NASCAR over the 2024 schedules for Trucks, Xfinity and Cup, which means there is little time for Smith to mull over how to utilize the company’s newest addition next season.
Asked following Sunday night’s race whether there is a place for North Wilkesboro on Speedway Motorsports’ 2024 schedule of NASCAR events, Smith said, “It’s a question that’s on my mind, as well. I think that when you see a successful week of events like we’ve had here, it’s natural to think, ‘Boy, maybe we could come back here.’
“I’m definitely thinking that way, that it’s got a lot of potential. I’ve never been to a NASCAR week where everybody was in such a good mood and everything was just going so well.
“It’s definitely something that we’re thinking about.”
Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry
Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images
The speedway was renovated with the idea it could host a variety of events going forward, from racing to concerts.
The coming decisions on the track’s future are just as important for the area’s residents and business – and perhaps more so – than NASCAR fans.
Its first big weekend couldn’t have gone much smoother in terms of logistics.
Nightmare parking and traffic issues predicted by some never materialized thanks to excellent preparation by track and state officials.
The track, last repaved in 1981, required minor patches and repair work during the week but nothing that disrupted the racing schedule.
Getting the track reopened was a huge accomplishment. Getting through the week’s events without a major hiccup may have qualified as a miracle.
By pulling it all off, however, Speedway Motorsports has naturally raised expectations of doing it again.
Larson sweeps the weekend
Kyle Larson, who won both Saturday’s Truck race and Sunday’s All-Star event and its $1 million top prize, would welcome a return.
“Really, I just want to see us keep coming back here,” he said. “I think NASCAR has a lot of roots here, so it deserves a spot on our schedule, whether it be a non-points race or a points race, whatever.”
The answer will likely come soon.
“We just started working on next year’s schedule with NASCAR, so we’ll see,” Smith said. “I think that – not speaking to next year specifically – I do think that there’s definitely a place in the NASCAR world for North Wilkesboro Speedway, and whether it’s a special event like All-Star, maybe one day it’s a points event, I don’t know.
“I think it’s a very important place for short track racing, the late model races, the modifieds, you name it. It’s a special place. It’s like walking into a museum that’s active and living and very special for the competitors and the fans alike.”