General Message Board
By Ryan McGee | ESPN The Magazine Aug. 30, 2010
They're about to go racing again at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Do not do anything to this track!' -- Kevin Harvick
With Johnson's endorsement, McBride secured a lease with an option to buy from Smith's Speedway Motorsports Inc. He announced a deal with Camp to schedule a USAR race in October 2010. But still, enthusiasm wasn't reaching the level he needed. Locals still had doubts about the track's physical and fiscal condition despite public declarations by Johnson and the mayor to the contrary.
So Parsons started making phone calls. "We needed just one Cup series team to come out and run some laps," she recalls. "We had some small, local teams testing fairly regularly. But I knew that if I could get one real live NASCAR star out onto the track, it would silence the doubters who still said the place was in too bad of shape to go racing."
I'd tried for years to get something going over there. Now, Alton and Terri and them had finally gotten some traction with it. I was immediately behind them all the way.
-- Hall of Famer Junior Johnson
She called her late husband's big league friends and even called in a few favors. Still, no one came. "Then," she says, beaming with pride. "Richard Childress' people called. And in March of this year, Kevin Harvick came out to test."
The first lap turned by a Cup car at North Wilkesboro Speedway in 14 years was a slow one. Harvick spent the whole time taking pictures and e-mailing them to friends, including Denny Hamlin. After finally dropping the hammer for a few hot laps, he pulled onto the sun-baked pit road, climbed out of the car, and pointed at Parsons and McBride.
"Do not do anything to this track!" He commanded. "It's perfect."
Parsons pointed to the handful of local news reporters who had gathered to cover the test. "Don't say that to me, say it to them."
Harvick did. The next morning, the headlines throughout the Carolina Piedmont carried that quote. Within days, other teams were lining up to schedule test dates. Then McBride announced that he had secured three more events, this weekend's PASS Super Late Models race, the ASA Late Model King's Ransom 300 and the confidently titled North Wilkesboro Speedway Short Track Shootout, an event promoted and attended by Bobby and Donnie Allison. With any success this fall, McBride hopes to secure a NASCAR K&N Pro East Series race in the near future.
"The legends of NASCAR are on board," Parsons says, noting the names that came in November 2009 to announce the original USAR race date, including Ned Jarrett. "Now we have to get race fans on board, too."
That is really neat Rickster!
I hope NASCAR gets the message. They have ignored their core fans and went chasing money out West.
Even new fans would love to see races at these older tracks. Televised races here are much more interesting to watch.
Money woes hamper North Wilkesboro Speedway again
News & Record May 11, 2011
NORTH WILKESBORO (MCT) — Volunteers who mowed the grass, installed wiring, worked the gates and otherwise helped their beloved North Wilkesboro Speedway reopen and stage races said Tuesday that the track's latest failure is a problem of money and management.
Alton McBride Jr., president of Speedway Associates Inc., the organization running the track since late 2009 under a three-year lease, announced late Monday night that the speedway is closing because it lacks the money to keep going.
"We lined up some great events," McBride said in a statement. "However, even though we can project positive income from events at the speedway, we do not have the money needed on the front end to make those events happen. In spite of our complete investment in the speedway and in this community, we have run out of money necessary to go forward."
McBride told NASCAR reporter Dustin Long of the News & Record that if Speedway Associates could raise $250,000 within a month or two, the track could reopen and host races this summer.
McBride couldn't be reached Tuesday. The speedway, which hosted races from 1947 until 1996, reopened for racing on Labor Day weekend 2010. It has held six large events and more than a dozen small events, including races, tractor pulls and concerts. The speedway is owned by billionaire Bruton Smith, a track owner and promoter.
The races themselves have drawn crowds of 4,000 to 5,000 people. The track's capacity is about 40,000, but not all sections of it had reopened yet. McBride's statement said some people have not come through on promises they made to him to support the track, but people who support the speedway said Tuesday that McBride has alienated volunteers and the local power structure he needs to succeed.