North Wilkesboro Speedway in Wilkes County, North Carolina, has a wide and renowned history in NASCAR dating back to 1949. The last time the venue hosted a NASCAR national series race was in 1996 when NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon won the NASCAR Cup Series event before the track closed.
The .625-mile short track was built in 1946 and became a North Carolina racing staple while hosting 93 NASCAR Cup Series races. The inaugural race, the 1949 Wilkes 200 on October 16, was won by Bob Flock. The track was known for being one of the fastest short-tracks in racing and in the 1950’s speeds reached up to 73 mph.
The track’s unique layout featured an uphill backstretch and downhill frontstretch with 14 degrees of banking in the turns and three degrees of banking on the straightaways.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty led the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at North Wilkesboro Speedway with 15 victories. NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip led the series in poles at North Wilkesboro Speedway with nine.
Last December, Dale Earnhardt Jr. led a group of drivers and NASCAR broadcasters in an effort to clean the track surface at North Wilkesboro Speedway. The cleaning allowed iRacing to scan and map the historic venue.
Among those that helped Earnhardt clean the speedway were Speedway Motorsports Inc. president Marcus Smith, iRacing executive vice president and executive producer Steve Myers, NASCAR Cup Series driver Chris Buescher, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Myatt Snider, NBC Sports’ Rick Allen and Marty Snider, William Byron’s spotter Tab Boyd, and Austin Dillon’s spotter Andy Houston.
This weekend will mark the debut of North Wilkesboro Speedway virtually and will feature 28 drivers, including Earnhardt.