Marcus Smith: ‘The future of North Wilkesboro Speedway is bright’

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Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith shared his vision for North Wilkesboro Speedway on Thursday night at the Wilkes County Chamber of Commerce’s 75th Membership Celebration.

Smith’s vision, includes NASCAR racing. He said at Thursday’s event that there is a “real possibility” of bringing a Camping World Truck Series race to the historic track.

North Wilkesboro Speedway, a 0.625-mile track, hosted NASCAR racing from 1949-96. It has sat largely idle since, other than hosting select racing events in 2010-11.

As part of the North Carolina state budget, which was passed in November, $18 million was earmarked toward infrastructure improvements at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

“The future of North Wilkesboro Speedway is bright,” Smith told a group of 250 people gathered for the event, according to a release from Speedway Motorsports. “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.”

Smith envisions the facility hosting motorsports, concerts and other entertainment options.

Smith noted the “real possibility” of bringing a Truck Series race, according to the Speedway Motorsports release.

“We specifically – and I’ll thank Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World for his voice of support – we specifically think it’s a real possibility to bring back NASCAR and the Camping World Truck Series to North Wilkesboro Speedway,” Smith said at Thursday’s event. “Those races are nationally televised events, and it’s a national NASCAR touring series. We have a number of those (races) in our portfolio, and I would love to see one of those here.”

Smith shared artist renderings of the renovated track Thursday.

“I think there’s a bright future ahead for North Wilkesboro Speedway,” Smith said at Thursday’s event. “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.”

Local volunteer groups helped clean the facility in recent months, allowing the focus to turn to the needed upgrades.

“Water, sewer, electricity, roads, connectivity – those are a lot of the building blocks that we need to get done,” Smith said at Thursday’s event. “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.”