Marcus Smith still believes North Wilkesboro Speedway would make a great venue for the Camping World Truck Series, but he’s not sold on the two other NASCAR national series making their returns.
Smith, Speedway Motorsports President and CEO, addressed the question Saturday during a news conference announcing grassroots racing returning to the track. Multiple events will be held in August and October — first on asphalt and then dirt. The 75-year-old track will be repaved in 2023.
North Wilkesboro was allocated $18 million from the North Carolina budget as part of the American Rescue Plan. Working with local government, the funds are to be used for water and sewer and infrastructure projects.
“I think it would be a perfect place for the NASCAR Truck Series to go and enjoy the classic track and a great setting in Wilkes County,” Smith said.
North Wilkesboro hosted two Truck Series races in the 1990s. Mike Bliss won the inaugural race in 1995 and Mark Martin won in 1996.
According to Smith, the earliest the series could return to the track would be 2024, and that’s a conservative estimate.
“There is a lot to do,” Smith said. “We have great pictures to show you…but pictures are just the beginning. There is a lot of work that has to be done between now and then.”
The famed speedway has hosted all three national series in the past. The Xfinity Series ran at North Wilkesboro from 1983 to 1985 and the Cup Series contested 93 events there, beginning in 1949 with a victory by Bob Flock.
Jeff Gordon won the last Cup Series race held at North Wilkesboro in 1996.
“And why not Cup and Xfinity?” Smith said. “I think the infrastructure — the size of the facility — is just not what we would put on the schedule for Cup and Xfinity at this time.”
In January, Smith shared a vision and concept layouts for North Wilkesboro at the Wilkes County Chamber of Commerce 75th Membership Celebration. Those renderings included modernizing the venue and using it not only for racing but concerts and other entertainment options.
Some of the items on the infrastructure improvement agenda are: water, sewer, electricity, roads, and connectivity. Volunteer groups have also helped clean up the track in recent months.