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Fans celebrate 75 years at North Wilkesboro Speedway

The racetrack is being renovated for a racetrack revival series that starts this August.

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — Racing fans set foot on the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway Wednesday on the track's 75th anniversary.

Many were there for the first time in years, some for the first time ever.

Cars lined Speedway Lane in Wilkes County for the long-awaited return.

"My parents for as long as I can remember talked about this track a lot," 16-year-old Scotte Sprinkle said.

Sprinkle and his younger brother Casee live in Wilkes County and race cars.

Many thought this day would never come.

"I never thought they would reopen this track. I finally gave up on it," Bill Blair said.

Blair and his father used to race at North Wilkesboro.

Crowds got a look at track renovations that are underway for the first race in years, set for this August.

"I'm surprised to see how good everything's been looking so far," Matthew Kirby said.

Kirby drove from Lenoir to see the track. He was a baby when the last NASCAR race was held here in 1996 but said his family raced here for many years.

"In my opinion, I think they put cars on it tomorrow and be just fine," Sprinkle said.

Sprinkle and Kirby are too young to remember the races here but Blair does.

"When I come here and sit, I can hear those cars running," Blair said.

He was nine years old when he and his dad came for the track's first race 75 years ago, on May 18, 1947.

He brought replicas of the cars his dad raced all those years ago to display on the track Wednesday.

"It brings back memories, it makes chills run down your arms," Blair said. "The history that happened here 75 years ago. These people laid the foundation for stock car racing."

Roger Smith made the drive from Greensboro to see races every spring and fall before the track closed.

He remembers when racing stopped.

"You can tell the difference between then and now. It affected (North Wilkesboro) in a really terrible way," Smith said. "If it does come back, then maybe the economy here will be good."

The push to bring North Wilkesboro Speedway back began a few years ago. Last year, the state approved $18 million to fund renovations.

Blair said it means everything to return to a track that feels like home.

"I hope to be able to come back several more times to see a race here," Blair said. "So much happened here that was history and I might be the last one alive that saw that."

Sprinkle and his younger brother hope to add to that history. They plan to race here when the track is ready this fall.

It's an opportunity the Wilkes County natives have waited for their whole lives.

"Even if we don't win I think just being on the track will be worth it just to have the memories doing that," Sprinkle said.

XR Events is producing the events for racing's return over the summer. More information on events and tickets can be found on North Wilkesboro Speedway's website.

 

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