Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — During the 75th season of NASCAR, the 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race will be held at the North Wilkesboro Speedway, Gov. Roy Cooper, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and other officials from NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports announced Thursday.
“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,” Gov. Cooper said. “North Wilkesboro Speedway is back and better than ever, and the All-Star Race will take it to new heights.”
“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,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith. “We couldn’t have made this happen without tremendous support from so many people including Gov. Cooper, our state legislature, NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and, of course, the people of Wilkes County. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’ve got the will to create something special alongside a community and hard-working staff that will get it done.”
“Some of my best memories as a little boy were going to North Wilkesboro,” Earnhardt said. “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. There’s just something special about it. I know the track, the fans, and the community will put on a show when we’re back with the Cup cars for the All-Star Race.”
“North Wilkesboro Speedway boasts a winners list that features the true giants of our sport, and next year, another great will be added as the NASCAR Cup Series stars once again race at this historic facility,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief operating officer. “As part of our 75th anniversary season, we’re excited to return to the roots of the sport for the NASCAR All-Star Race. This will be a can’t-miss event as we honor our past and look forward to the future.”
The NASCAR All-Star Race will be held at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 21, 2023. The NASCAR All-Star Race will bring an international spotlight and thousands of race fans to North Carolina. The tourism impact will carry through the following weekend with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In his budget proposal last year, Gov. Cooper included funds to revitalize speedways across North Carolina. In November 2021, the Governor signed the state budget that included these funds. The budget allocates American Rescue Plan funding to speedways across the state, with North Wilkesboro Speedway receiving $18 million.
In May, Cooper and the N.C. Department of Commerce announced that 15 local governments have been awarded $45.8 million to help 17 motorsports venues recover from the pandemic. The money can be used for water, sewer and other infrastructure projects pertaining to the speedways. The grants enhanced local tourism, travel and hospitality industries that benefit from the many motorsports events held in North Carolina.
North Wilkesboro Speedway was one of the first NASCAR tracks. The final NASCAR Cup Series race at North Wilkesboro was held in 1996 and won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon. The track sat largely abandoned, but in recent years, the community made significant efforts to revitalize the track. Racing returned to North Wilkesboro Speedway on August 31 for the Window World 125 race, where fans packed the sold-out stadium.
North Carolina is the birthplace of motorsports and NASCAR, an industry woven into the state’s history and identity. The state serves as the home to NASCAR’s headquarters and Hall of Fame, and 90 percent of the sanctioning body’s race teams are based in North Carolina.