Monday, October 3, 2022

North Wilkesboro Revival? Marcus Smith Says SMI Has Not Given Up on Track in Podcast

The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series racing at North Wilkesboro Speedway in 2020. Photo Credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images

Since it left the NASCAR Cup Series schedule following the 1996 season, people have always debated whether or not North Wilkesboro Speedway could make a return to the sport.

It’s been 25 years since the speedway last put on a NASCAR National Series event, but in a new edition of the Dale Jr. Download, President of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Marcus Smith, says that SMI has not forgotten or given up on the race track and even went as far to hint that it may be revived down the line.

“I just want to let you know that we haven’t forgotten about North Wilkesboro, we haven’t given up on it,” Smith revealed.

An overjoyed Dale Earnhardt Jr. responded, “What? What does that even mean?”

To which Smith responded, “It just means, that we’re — I’m thinking, we’re working on it. No promises, but we have not forgotten about it. That’s the big message.”

As the NASCAR schedule continues to shift from a truck load of massive 1.5-mile speedways with hundreds of thousands of seats, to venues that actually produce racing that fans crave and enjoy (short tracks, dirt racing and road courses), it certainly makes sense for SMI to think about getting the 0.625-mile speedway into shape to once again host major stock car auto races.

Will it happen? That remains to be seen, but the fact that SMI is even debating making something happen with North Wilkesboro Speedway is a huge development for the North Carolina short track, which many fans felt had been forgotten and abandoned.

“I know a lot of people think that I don’t care, and that’s not true. I really do care,” Smith explained. “If we can think of a way to do something there, we’re going to.”

While there has been a massive Save the Speedway push in the past, things really ratcheted into high gear last year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Smith and numerous other volunteers embarked on cleaning up the track surface for the short track, so that it could be scanned for the iRacing simulation service.

The efforts were successful, and the track has since been included into the service, and the virtual edition of the track even hosted an iRacing eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series event last year on FOX.

This has introduced an entire new generation to the track that was a staple on the NASCAR schedule from 1949 until it’s last NASCAR National Series sanctioned event in 1996.

Here is the clip from the Dale Jr. Download of Smith talking about North Wilkesboro, and in the embedded tweet is a link to listen to the entire podcast episode:

Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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