It’s been a while since we’ve heard from North Wilkesboro Speedway. The track, located in North Carolina, closed in 2018 after more than 80 years of operation. Now, with the Covid-19 pandemic seemingly behind us, people are wondering whether or not the speedway will reopen.
Is North Wilkesboro Speedway Reopening?
Due to the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn, it’s been a tough year for racing fans. With fewer people attending live events, it’s made it challenging for tracks to survive. According to ESPN, as of April 2020, there were more than 950 closed-down track races on the books, with organizers in need of $50 million to $100 million to keep the lights on.
Thankfully, there are a select few tracks that have figured out a way to continue operating during this time, including North Wilkesboro Speedway. A day after the last race was held there in September 2018, the speedway announced that it would reopen as a digital only facility in late October. The new format would allow them to continue providing a place for races and other motor sports events while limiting the amount of people who attend them. They’ve kept that promise, and today, you can download their app and purchase tickets to see some of NASCAR‘s top drivers like Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, and more.
The Benefits Of Reopening
While we’re glad that tracks like North Wilkesboro Speedway are able to operate during this time, there are still several benefits to having a racing venue. Here’s a look at a few of those benefits.
With more people stuck at home and the sporting arena virtually empty, it’s been a lucrative season for tracks that are open. This is due, in part, to the fact that they can now charge admission to make up for the losses they’ve incurred during the pandemic. It’s also brought with it an uptick in online bookings and travel to the track, something that hadn’t occurred in a long time.
According to VisitWilkesboro.com, the number of overnight stay requests more than doubled in February and March as compared to the same months last year. Additionally, online searches for hotels in North Wilkesboro increased by 132% and 125% in those months.
However, tracks that are open solely as a digital venue are excluded from this benefit. There are still some concerns about whether or not this will cut out a large portion of their ticket sales, but the numbers so far have been encouraging.
Tracks that are open have been able to keep the health of their attendees in mind. With the amount of time people are spending at home increasing, it’s become a popular practice for racers to do workouts there or take part in virtual racing sessions. Health professionals have also begun recommending tracks consider reopening due to the increased physical activity that takes place there. Even if you don’t attend the races, it’s still possible to reap the benefits of being open. This is mainly due to the fact that fans are now spending more time within the track’s vicinity, leading to a decreased risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Increased Job Opportunities
With all of the construction and equipment maintenance that goes into operating a track, it’s been a blessing to have an opportunity to expand their staff. Tracks that are open have a plethora of jobs available, from drivers to security, hospitality, and more. The only requirement is to have a pulse.
Some tracks, like North Wilkesboro Speedway, have even taken the step of requiring their employees to stay home and wear masks during this time. This is to prevent the spread of the virus, and it’s certainly paid off; according to one source, there have been zero reported cases of Covid-19 at the track. Hopefully, that continues to be the case, and more people can get back to work so we can all get back to enjoying life as we know it.
Top Drivers And Teams That Will Return
It seems like every week, we hear about which NASCAR drivers and teams will be returning to action and which ones will be missing. While it’s still too early to tell, based on what we know so far, here’s a list of the top drivers and teams heading to the track for the summer Season. And yes, we’ll have some special guests joining us this year!
- Aric Almirola (Honda)
- Daniel Suarez (Hyundai)
- Ryan Blaney (Chevy)
- Joey Logano (Nissan)
- Austin Dillon (Foster’s Fresh Foods)
- Timothy Peters (Tire Kingdom)
- Kevin Harvick (Humphrey’s Express)
- Paul Menard (GoDaddy.com)
These are drivers that consistently race well at North Wilkesboro Speedway. It’s also worth noting that all of these teams will be carrying sponsorship this year. That’s a combination that’s always been successful at NWS, and it’s sure to continue this year as well.
The Teams That Will Return
It’s also important to remember that not all teams will be returning to the track. As we’ve seen in the past, teams can decide to either race at an open track or at a track owned by a corporation. It’s been a common practice for NASCAR to open up the tracks for the good of the sport, and it’s been a blessing for the fans.
However, this has allowed for some amazing racing and memorable moments, like Jeff Gordon’s win at the 1999 Ford 400. And it’s also led to some questionable decisions, like the 2006 race at the Sears Point Race Course, which was moved to Sonoma to accommodate the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. That was a terrible move, and it’s led to a lot of confusion about whether or not that race was actually in Sonoma.
One thing is for sure – the fans come back for the racing, and without them, the sport wouldn’t be worth watching. That’s something we can all be thankful for.