Marcus Smith, president, and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, shared his vision for the revitalization of North Wilkesboro Speedway on Thursday, as part of the Wilkes County Chamber of Commerce 75th Membership Celebration.
The modernization project will largely be funded by the $18-million put aside by the North Carolina state budget for the 0.625-mile facility, which, thanks to the work of local volunteer groups, has had cleanup in progress for months.
NEWS | Speedway Motorsports’ @MarcusSMI shares vision for revitalized North Wilkesboro Speedway.
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“The future of North Wilkesboro Speedway is bright,” Smith told a group of 250 people gathered for the event. “There is a great opportunity to revive this fantastic venue to be, not just a race track, but a place that can host lots of events, a place that people will come to from far away and enjoy the community, enjoy the region and enjoy special events.”
While sharing his vision for the speedway, Smith notes the legitimate possibility of a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at North Wilkesboro Speedway, nodding to Camping World CEO, Marcus Lemonis, for his voice of approval.
In addition to the possibility of the short track’s return to NASCAR’s top-three series, Smith notes the possibility of the track hosting additional entertainment events, such as concerts, with its modernized facilities.
“Water, sewer, electricity, roads, connectivity – those are a lot of the building blocks that we need to get done,” Smith said. “We want to keep the character of the property, celebrate the history, but, of course, make it safe, convenient, and enjoyable for everyone who comes to visit.
“In the car world, I would call it a resto-mod. It’s going to look old, but it’s going to work new. When you think about nostalgic opportunities, this is one of those one-in-a-million opportunities.
“Our hope is to celebrate the history and look forward to the future. North Wilkesboro Speedway is an amazing, historic place for NASCAR. It’s almost like Fenway Park is to baseball. I think, with this money from the state and the American Rescue Plan, we can make some dreams a reality at North Wilkesboro Speedway.”
The physical plans and renderings for a revitalization of a Wilkes County landmark is welcome news to the residents, community leaders, and business owners in the area.
“This means everything to anybody that lives in Wilkes County,” said Terri Parsons, widow of NASCAR legend Benny Parsons and a longtime advocate of revitalizing the facility. “By the speedway coming back, this has just turned a lightbulb on in this whole community again. You can see by the attendance tonight, everybody in the town, everybody in the county supports it and wants to see something come alive out there.”
“I’m very excited to hear the ideas that are coming from Speedway Motorsports,” said Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, whose district includes Wilkes County. “This track is a symbol of our community. He (Smith) used the word ‘hope.’ It’s very exciting to see the vision that he’s putting forth and how it’s tying to the past and looking to the future.”
“I think there’s a bright future ahead for North Wilkesboro Speedway. It wouldn’t happen without the amazing community support that’s in this room as well as the people who have been out at the speedway to help us bring the speedway back. Anybody might have said this place is too far gone, but this community rallied and brought it to a place where we can rebuild it and it can be a fantastic jewel.”