RALEIGH, N.C. — After three years away, the NASCAR All-Star race is coming back to North Carolina.
Speedway Motorsports, Gov. Roy Cooper, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and others announced in Raleigh Thursday that the 2023 edition of the race will take place at the North Wilkesboro Speedway.
The announcement comes after the speedway received $18M in allocation money from the federal American Rescue Plan funds that was designated for infrastructure improvements of the speedway through the North Carolina state budget. The track hosted small races throughout the summer as the track is soon due for upgrades. Wilkes County recently awarded construction contracts for the work.
The General Assembly has agreed in principal to provide a $4M economic grant next year toward additional facility improvements to host the 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race and future special events.
“The NASCAR All-Star Race has always been the fans’ race, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the fans during NASCAR’s 75th anniversary than returning to North Wilkesboro Speedway,” Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith said.
Texas Motor Speedway hosted the race for the last two years and Bristol hosted in 2020 due to the pandemic barring events in North Carolina at the time. Before that, Charlotte Motor Speedway had hosted the spectacle since it started in 1985 and it was hosted there for most of its history.
Gov. Cooper spoke on the importance of the track.
“Motorsports are critical to North Carolina’s history, culture and economy, and our investments have helped to get the engines running again in places that needed revival,” said Gov. Cooper. “North Wilkesboro Speedway is back and better than ever, and the All-Star Race will take it to new heights.”
North Wilkesboro first hosted its first race in May of 1947 as a dirt track and ended up hosting 93 NASCAR Cup Series race before stopping NASCAR Cup racing in 1996. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been a key voice in the speedway getting a facelift.
“Some of my best memories as a little boy were going to North Wilkesboro,” said Earnhardt. “And it got even better when I raced there as a teenager. I never thought I’d see that place full again, and then I got to race there this summer in a late model before a full house.”
Three-day NASCAR All-Star Race weekend ticket packages will go on sale later this year. In the meantime, fans can make a $25 donation to Speedway Children’s Charities starting Friday at noon to reserve a spot on the priority-to-buy list.
Community members in North Wilkesboro told Channel 9 that they have worked hard to bring racing back to its roots.
In downtown North Wilkesboro, signs and bumper stickers can be seen everywhere, showing the effort that went into bringing racing to the North Wilkesboro Speedway. George Smith, the president of Copper Barrel Distillery in Wilkesboro, said that for more than a year, he has hung a banner of support outside of his distillery.
“(I’m) very excited about the announcement. I think it will be a great thing for our town and our community of the return to racing to North Wilkesboro,” Smith said.
That dream has now become a reality with Thursday’s announcement. It has been more than 25 years since NASCAR has raced at the North Wilkesboro Speedway.
“There’s something about it. It’s just got a special place in our history, and I’m so excited to see what can happen beyond this,” Earnhardt said.
Blake Sebastian, a chef at a restaurant in downtown North Wilkesboro, said this news couldn’t have been better.
“It’s a shot in the arm for everybody. Big news. Big news. Racing is back,” Sebastian said.
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