Who Owns North Wilkesboro Speedway? [Solved!]

The 2019 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina on June 6th for the Freedom Heat Death Match. The tour features 17 modifieds across three divisions – Sportmods, Street Mods, and Festival Fours – with the top 12 drivers meeting in the playoffs for the championship. The track is famous for its half-mile high-banked turns and breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is easily accessible from the south by Hwy 421 and from the north by Hwy 17.

To qualify for the playoffs, drivers need to score at least 22 points in the 12-race regular season. The playoffs are then followed by the Freedom Heat Death Match, which is held annually on the Sunday of the 4th of July weekend. This season’s version will be the 45th anniversary of the Freedom Heat Death Match, which is being referred to as the “Great American Race.”

The previous season’s winner, Tommy Kendall, will not race this year. Instead, the 35-year-old has retired from full-time racing and now races only on weekends. With six wins and 15 top-five finishes, he was able to capture the championship by a slim margin. The Freedom Heat Death Match was the culmination of a dominant season that saw him post an incredible 97 wins to his credit. In 2019, he will be joined by five other drivers who are returning from last year’s tournament – Mike Wallace, David Reutimann, Josh Williams, Eric Foss, and BJ McLeod – as well as two wildcard selections who have yet to win a race in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competition – Mason Gucci and Parker Thompson.

How Has The Historic Track Fared Over The Past Decade?

Since the inaugural running of the Freedom Heat Death Match in 1974, a lot has changed about the track. In that time, it has gone from a small dirt oval to a massive paved tri-oval. The grandstands were destroyed by fire in 2002 and were rebuilt with metal gazebos. Before the grandstands were burned down, there were only 2,500 seats in them. Now, there are close to 11,000 seats spread across three different decks.

In the early 2000s, Michael Waltrip Racing began purchasing racecars and a modified truck for the tour. Since then, the organization has built a reputation for itself by fielding multiple competitors in the race, often leading to a full-blown battle for the lead position. The most significant change, however, was the surface of the track. Before, it had been dirt oval. Now, it’s asphalt. This makes it much easier for drivers to hit their marks and get down the backstretch quickly.

The Track Is Now Officially Called…What?

Last year, NASCAR decided to change the name of the historic track to avoid any possible confusion with another speedway in North Carolina that is also called the “Freedom” Speedway. Fans of the track will be glad to hear that it is now known as the “North Wilkesboro Speedway,” but it is certainly an adjustment and has caused a lot of headaches for those who were already used to calling it by its old name.

Those who attended the grand opening of the new speedway in 2019 will see an oversized brass plaque on the wall dedicated to the memory of the late Eddie Sachs, who was one of the organizers of the inaugural running of the Freedom Heat Death Match. At the time of his death in 2018, he was the track announcer at North Wilkesboro Speedway and also worked for the Federated Insurance Company as a claims adjuster. The company had a large office in the Charlotte airport and he would travel all over the country working on cases. The plaque was a gift from Ed’s family to celebrate his life. It features a silhouette of Eddie Sachs holding a microphone with the track’s new name inscribed below.

Three Decks, Three Views

The new North Wilkesboro Speedway has been designed to accommodate groups of all sizes. To maximize the experience for those who attend the races, the track organizers went for an “open-air” layout. This means that the track is on one level, so there will be no stairs or elevators to keep people from missing a ride. The surface is a combination of asphalt and concrete, making it ideal for high speeds. The track now has a 3,500-seat grandstand and a 400-seat hillside grandstand. There are also plans to add a new, two-tiered, enclosed deck that will hold about 600 people. This will be followed by a picnic area and a beach club with an outdoor fireplace, perfect for those cold winter nights.

The organizers also built a bridge that connects the three decks so that participants can easily move from the terrace to the pit area. This way, everyone can take advantage of the stunning view of the track and its three-quarter-mile straightaways – one of them being a half-mile – from all three decks. It also means that the kids can join the celebration in the stands without having to be separated from their parents. When the time comes for the drivers to stop and visit the snack bar or the restroom, there will be no one waiting for them because everything will be just a short walk away.

More Than Meets The Eye

Although it only takes up a small area on the ground, the new North Wilkesboro Speedway has a lot more than meets the eye. For one thing, it has an elevator that goes from one of the decks to the roof. This means that guests can easily reach the top floor, which is not accessible from the other two decks. On the roof, there are tables and chairs for food and drinks as well as a spectacular view of the whole city and the distant Appalachian Mountains.

Besides the elevator, the roof features a large open deck with additional tables and comfortable lounges. For those who want to lie back and enjoy the sunshine, this is the perfect place. On a clear day, one can see up to five different states. To make the most of the view, the track organizers built an outdoor patio with tables and chairs. One can also find a spot outside near one of the three bridges that connect the different tiers of the grandstands. Here, one can enjoy the fresh air while watching the cars go by.

Inside the grandstands, there is a lot more room to move around. While the early 2000s brought some modifications, such as individual, reclining seating and beer holders, the track organizers kept the classic wooden seats with steel backs and placed them in three straight groups of nine. Each grandstand has a capacity of 1,500 people and is equipped with its own climate control system. This ensures that the attendees remain comfortable during the event even if the temperature starts rising or falling significantly.

Where Can I Buy Tix To See The Races?

If you’re looking to buy tickets to see the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour this summer, you can do so online through this link or at the box office on the day of the race. The tour’s website also has a ticket-buying section where users can compare all available tickets and choose the best option for them.

The box office opens two hours before the race and continues to sell tickets until thirty minutes before the green flag flies. This year’s race starts at 12:00 pm, so be sure to get there early to get a good spot.

A Whole Lot Of History

There are plans to mark the historic site with a museum. Once completed, it will showcase the history of the track and its inhabitants. As part of the building project, the organizers also installed a plaque with a list of all the champions that have raced there – from A.J. Foyt to John Henry to Richard Petty – as well as a timeline of the track’s history.

The inaugural running of the Freedom Heat Death Match was on July 3rd, 1974. The following week, the track held a celebration open to the public. Among the festivities were a car parade down the front straightaway and a track meet in which more than 500 people from the community participated. It was a hot July weekend and, although there were no injuries, it was an eye-opening experience for everyone involved. More than 45 years later, the track still holds some of the original rules that were implemented way back then. The modifieds are run with just five gears, there are no clutch bumps, and the starting procedure is set by a race-tracking system. This system determines the order of the drivers based on the speed they are traveling at the beginning of the race. The faster the better, so that each driver is guaranteed at least two wins before the end of the season. This ensures that the drivers keep their sponsorships for the following year.

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