An iconic part of NASCAR’s massive history is being left in the dust after helping the sport become one of the biggest parts of American auto racing.
Opened more than 70 years ago, this unforgettable track and huge part of stock car history has been completely forgotten about and is crumbling – literally.
An important building block in NASCAR‘s massive empire, North Wilkesboro Speedway first opened its doors way back in the late 1940s – when the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing first got its start. The track was shuttered in 1996 after a final Winston Cup Series race was held there – the winner being Jeff Gordon.
The track was one of NASCAR’s most unique and featured an uphill backstretch and downhill front-stretch, measuring a total of 0.625 miles, but the roots of this infamous track weren’t initially set in NASCAR, but rather in the early days of Prohibition where it was a dirt oval used by moonshiners to test their liquor cars.
Opened as a dirt raceway in 1947, the iconic France family promoted the first official event as a modified race, and blew the roof off of attendance expectations, reeling in more than three times the crowd they had planned for.
Continuing on as one of the foremost speedways in NASCAR, North Wilkesboro eventually was paved and updated with grandstands and other more modern amenities. It hosted the top series, NASCAR’s Winston Cup for a total of 93 races until its closure in 1996.
The historic track reopened in 2010 for a few smaller Stock Car Series races, but shut down in the spring of the following year. When North Wilkesboro Speedway first shut down, it was due to a number of issues including the massive growth of NASCAR as a whole, and the size of the track. Other factors, like economics behind upgrading it with newer amenities and repairs, also factored into the closure.
The North Wilkesboro Speedway rarely has been talked about in the decades since the Winston Cup left it in the dust, but it remains one of the most pivotal tracks in the history of the sport. Nobody talks about the North Wilkesboro Speedway, or the history behind it, because it’s only become a massive wasteland of abandoned asphalt and long-forgotten memories.
Watch the videos below that show some of the sides never seen to this truly amazing racetrack.