Stock Car Racing Wiki

North Wilkesboro Speedway is a short track which originally held races in NASCAR's top 3 series' from NASCAR's inception in 1949 until its closure in 1996. In 2022, the track was reopened and hosted the NASCAR All-Star Race in 2023.


The track is situated in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. It measures 5/8ths of a mile, or 0.625 miles around. One area of interest was the uphill/downhill effect of the straightaways – the backstretch is banked slightly upward, the frontstretch banked slightly down.

Memorable moments[]

  • The first race at the track was on May 5 1947. Fonty Flock qualified on the pole, won his heat race, and won the feature after sitting out for 4 1/2 years with an injury [1]. The event was sanctioned by the National Championship Stock Car Circuit, which was a forerunner to NASCAR.
  • One year Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace drove side-by-side for around 10 straight laps for the lead. The track was generally always a single groove track.
  • The Wilkes 400 in 1972 featured Bobby Allison against Richard Petty in a 39 lap slugfest. The lead changed thirteen times. In the final five laps, Petty was held up by a slower car. Both drivers plowed into the fences, guardrails, and each other. Both continued at full speed. Allison led with one lap to go, but Petty passed him for the win.
  • Allison came back for the win in the 1973 Wilkes 400 by passing Petty for the win on the final lap.
  • In the late 1970s, Cale Yarborough dominated the track. Cale blew up a tire, but made up three laps in the fall 1978 race to win easily.
  • In 1979 Bobby Allison led most of the race. In the final 150 laps Darrell Waltrip caught Allison. The two hit together hard and Darrell nailed the front stretch wall. Waltrip began crowding off Allison under the caution and got black flagged for the crowding. Benny Parsons won the race
  • In the fall 1988 race, Dale Earnhardt led nearly half the race until Ricky Rudd caught him. The drivers banged fenders for the final 41 laps. They were both black flagged to the rear of the field and pounded together again with five to go. Rusty Wallace passed Geoff Bodine with ten laps left. Bodine struck Wallace's car at the start of the final lap. Wallace pushed Bodine sideways, and Wallace crossed the finish line for the win.
  • In the Fall 1989 race, Dale Earnhardt led 343 laps, but a caution set up a two lap showdown with Ricky Rudd. Rudd went side-by-side with Earnhardt. The two spun, and Geoff Bodine passed the two for the win.
  • Brett Bodine led most of the spring 1990 race. During a caution the pace car picked up the wrong leader, which gave Bodine a lap lead. Bodine put on a set of tires before the error was corrected. He held off Darrell Waltrip for his only career Winston Cup win.

Closure of North Wilkesboro[]

The track was bought out in 1996 by Bob Bahre and O. Bruton Smith, who gave the track's race dates to New Hampshire International Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway respectively. Since the sale to Bahre and Smith, there have been gestures to buy the track and re-open it by, among others, local native Junior Johnson. However, no deals have yet materialized. The last race was held there in September 1996, and there are currently no plans to re-open it to any form of racing.

Re-opening of North Wilkesboro[]

The track briefly re-opened for several late model races in 2010 and 2011, one of which was won by Chase Elliott. However, after 2011, the track shut down again, and it seemed as if the track was done for good. However, in November of 2021, governor of North Carolina Roy Cooper allocated $40 million to 3 tracks in the country, including North Wilkesboro. Enough renovations were made, and in August of 2022, the track hosted a series of races dubbed the Racetrack Revival. One of the races during the Racetrack Revival was a CARS Tour race featuring Dale Earnhardt, Jr.. There were plans to run dirt races at the track in October of 2022, but it never happened due to the limited time.

On September 8, 2022, NASCAR announced the track would return onto the Cup Series schedule, as it would host the All-Star Race on May 21, 2023. The Craftsman Truck Series would also return to the track the day prior as a companion event. For both series, it marked the first time since 1996 that they would be racing at North Wilkesboro.


  • Current car owner Jack Roush of Roush Racing (now RFK Racing) held round one of "Roush's Race For The Ride" at North Wilkesboro Speedway, a competition to find the next Roush Racing development driver.
  • Richard Petty's fifteen wins were the most in the history of the track.

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