The NASCAR Cup Series has its roots in regional racing, with short oval tracks like Daytona, Talladega, and Michigan serving as its foundation. That is where we find ourselves today, with the exception of the Monster Energy Series, which operates on tracks like Indianapolis and the great scenic winding road that is the IndyCar Circuit. A huge chunk of stock car racing action happens every week in the Southeast. It’s not just that this is home to some of the biggest tracks in the country, like Darlington, which holds one of the most prestigious races in American sports; it’s that there are so many different tracks that create such a rich racing environment. One of the most storied tracks is the 0.75-mile North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina. What is the largest stadium there? You guessed it: The Speedway!
The history of the track, which is the first NASCAR oval, goes all the way back to the beginning of the sport. Construction began in 1928 and the 1.25-mile dirt track opened for its first season in August of that year. The venue originally sat 18,000 people and was known as Durham’s “White Elephant.” In 1941, the track was paved and extended to its current 0.75-mile width. In 1960, the frontstretch was altered to create the present-day banking as we know it. This is where most of the passing and energy is located, giving the track an exclusive feel. In 2007, the speedway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
What makes the place so special is not just the history, but the fact that anyone can attend a NASCAR race there. With tickets starting at just $32, you can see a live oval race on any given day. Combine that with some of the best food and beverage options in the country, and you’ve got another great reason to visit North Wilkesboro.
The History Of North Wilkesboro Speedway
The history of the track, which is the first NASCAR oval, goes all the way back to the beginning of the sport. Construction began in 1928 and the 1.25-mile Dirt track opened for its first season in August of that year. However, the track did not become a regularly-scheduled race until 1934, when the East Tennessee Industrial Corporation began holding races there. The track was known as Durham’s “White Elephant” and featured a single 9th-grade football field-sized pit in the middle of the track, surrounded by grandstands. In 1941, the track was paved and extended to its current 0.75-mile width.
In 1960, the frontstretch was altered to create the present-day banking as we know it. In 2007, the speedway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
These days, the track holds Monster Truck races, NASCAR Truck Series races, and a part of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. The track also hosts the Big Buck Rally, where participants race against each other in an effort to steal a buck from passersby. In addition, the World of Outlaws hosts the famous WOW Szechwan Sauce Festival, where exotic spices are liberally used in creating mouth-watering recipes. If racing isn’t your thing, you can catch a movie or check out one of the dozens of craft brews available at the on-site bar.
The Making Of A NASCAR RACING VENUE
The history of NASCAR is rich and storied, with events having taken place on major league baseball fields, university campuses, and even military bases. But, before there was a NASCAR, there was a group of racecar drivers, friends, and family who did it for fun. They would meet at local tracks and get together for some racing, as you may have guessed from the name of the organization. The group consisted of Don White, his son Jack, Junior Johnson, and Lee Petty. They called themselves the Petty Motor Company, and began racing in the 1928 season on the 1.25-mile dirt oval at North Carolina’s Wilkes County Fairgrounds. White’s home track at the time was the 0.75-mile clay oval in Winston-Salem, so he took the team there to race. Things went well, and by the end of the year they had acquired a couple more drivers, including Marvin Panch and Red Byron, expanding the team to five cars. This was 1934. The following year, they moved to bigger and better things, opening the New Winston Speedway in Winston-Salem and upgrading to a new engine and transmission. The name changed to the National Speedway Corporation, and they began holding races as far away as Detroit and Chicago. In 1938, they came up with the idea of the tri-oval, and this is where we find ourselves today, with the exception of the Monster Energy Series, which operates on tracks like Indianapolis and the great scenic winding road that is the IndyCar Circuit.
We are surrounded by the greatest outdoor sports arenas in the country, from football to hockey to basketball. And what is the main source of these sports arenas? You guessed it: the taxpayer.