Track News and Announcements
Group launches community effort to reopen North Wilkesboro: STS Motorsports Inc. announced they would begin work on saving North Wilkesboro Speedway once again, following the closure in 2011 after the PASS Super Late Models $100,000 To Win Race. While previous efforts to Save the Speedway have been met with pitfalls and mis-management, STS Motorsports Inc. has decided to reopen the issue and ask the community for help. "In the past, no one has asked the community what they thought and how things could be done. We seemed to see people come in with grand ideas that fizzled out over time, while disenfranchising the motorsports community as a whole." said Robert Marsden - Founder STS Motorsports Inc.
In the renewed effort, STS Motorsports Inc. will begin a donation campaign asking racing fans to join in this time and donate. In return, not only will you help save a historic motorsports landmark, but additionally, tickets, pit passes, and even get their name on a race or drive the pace car during one of the planned events once the donation campaign reaches it goal. "We will use our grassroots skills to bring the message to race fans giving them a return on their investment to lease and reopen North Wilkesboro Speedway," said Steven B. Wilson
All fans and businesses interested in donating can find the campaign and information on Indiegogo at indiegogo.com/northwilkesborospeedway
The campaign will kick off using social media, word of mouth and help from the community willing to see North Wilkesboro Speedway reopened. All the information will be found on STS Motorsports website at www.savethespeedway.net or following along on Twitter @savethespeedway and on our Facebook page facebook.com/northwilkesborospeedway.
About North Wilkesboro Speedway: North Wilkesboro Speedway was opened in 1947 at a dirt track in Western North Carolina by Enoch Staley, and Jack Combs. Hosted NASCAR for 50 years beginning in 1949 with the final race of the very first NASCAR until closing in 1996.(STS)(10-16-2012)
North Wilkesboro Speedway Closing: For the last 1 ½ years, Speedway Associates Inc. has taken race fans and Wilkes County residents on a history-making ride with the reopening of North Wilkesboro Speedway which had been shuttered for 14 years. However, the business climate and a lack of working capital has now brought everything at the historic facility to a screeching halt. "Simply put, we made a lot of improvements to the speedway," Speedway Associates Inc. President Alton McBride Jr. said Monday. "We lined up some great events. 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."
"Personally, I cannot say enough about the fans, competitors and businesses that have supported us. The companies that we have partnered with are incredible and we have a priceless relationship with each and every one of them. However, Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway has not experienced the support from several corporate and/or local businesses that either promised it or cheered the reopening of the facility. A lot was promised to HNWS, but only some of them followed through on their promises. SAI put a substantial amount of money into this motorsports venture and this historic facility with every intention of fulfilling its three year lease/purchase agreement."
Despite the unexpected re-shuttering of the track after the 2011 season had begun, McBride said it was "not entirely a sad day" due to everything that had been accomplished, including receiving the North Carolina Motorsports Association's industry award for the track's contribution to motorsports in 2010.
Speedway Associates began its journey at the five-eighths-mile track in November 2009 with an ambitious but strategic plan to reopen North Wilkesboro Speedway, which was closed after the fall NASCAR Cup race in 1996. Immediately, its name was adjusted to Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway in order to pay respect to the track's place in motorsports history.
>From Labor Day weekend 2010 through the 2011 season-opening richest-ever Pro All-Star Series race, the SAI team conducted six large and more than a dozen small successful events.
In 2010 PASS and SAI executives announced "The Race", which guaranteed a minimum $75,000 to the winner. Approximately 80 drivers, including past Daytona 500 winners Sterling Marlin and Geoff Bodine, entered the event. Every region of the United States, as well as Canada, was represented in the history-making race.
"A lot of critics said we could never pull off the race, that it was impossible, but we made it happen and it was a stellar success," McBride said. "It turned the industry on its ear and produced a crowd pleaser that fans couldn't wait to return to in 2012. In just 1 ½ years, SAI's fantastic team returned this wonderful, historic track to its rightful place as the most popular place for past and present industry icons to come and feel the history that was being kept alive by those who carry this speedway in their heart."
In addition to hosting the country's richest-ever short-track race, during the last 1 ½ years it:
-- Conducted events for the 2011 season-opener "The Race" under the lights, a first-ever for the facility. The entire race was scheduled to be at night, but severe storms forced postponement of the race and resulted in it not ending under the lights.
-- Provided an opportunity for nearly every short-track series to compete at the track -- PASS Super Late Model, Late Model, Late Model Stock, Limited Late Model, USAR Pro Cup, Stadium Tour Type Modified, Rolling Thunder Modifieds, Street Stock, Allison Legacy Series, United States Super Truck, and U-Car Clash. The teams testing at the track included those from the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide, Camping World Truck and K&N series. The Southern Truck and Tractor Pullers Association, Crit Tour Type Bike racing and Cycle Cross also held events at the facility.
-- Contributed to several regional charities, including the food bank through the coop direction of Lowes Foods and those helping disadvantaged youth.
-- Was responsible for an impact of just over $1 million on the local economy with last month's "The Race", according to North Wilkesboro Mayor Robert Johnson and his staff.
-- Was the leader in filling the area's hotels year round when compared to the one-off regional events held annually, according to statistics compiled by SAI staff.
-- Researched and restored the "brain" in the scoring tower so it was operational for the 2011 season.
-- More than doubled its 2011 schedule, which included the first-ever USAC Silver Crown and Midget race weekend.
-- Employed more than 100 locally- and regionally-based residents on race weekends.
SAI and PASS also received from Wilkes County government officials an incentive plan, signed with Economic Development, to purchase 10,000 tickets for "The Race" in 2012 if it was awarded to Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway. The incentive plan was signed by the county commissioners and mayors of Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro. Other incentives listed in the plan would have been a huge assistance to the speedway.
"The smile on each fan's face over the last 1 ½ years will remain and will never be erased," McBride said. "The drivers who came to compete where the best-of-the-best in NASCAR Winston Cup have raced need to understand that we, SAI, recognized them all. We remember and appreciate everyone who set foot on the property. We considered you equally important no matter the series, division, name, or level of experience. You count and we were honored to have you at HNWS. It is all about people and people are who made this so great at every event.
"To all -- racer, fan, SAI team member, media, fire and rescue, clean-up and restoration crew, security, ticketing, race series and officials, and volunteers -- you are why this worked so well for 1 1/2 years. A price cannot be put on the experiences and the people who participated in and shared the last 1 ½ years at Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway. There is a magical aspect to the place that we all feel at any event there.
"As I stated previously, being able to cover event expenses is not the problem at the speedway. The problem is that we put a lot of money into the speedway and ultimately, we did not have the amount of support that we needed. Our working capital has been drained and it has impaired our ability to hold future events.
"As I also stated, the speedway can be a viable business if it has adequate capital. If anyone wants to partner with us or stand on our shoulders to make the Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway work, they should talk to us.
"Until then, thank you to everyone who has supported us, everyone with whom we have worked, and everyone who loves what we have accomplished at this historic facility."(Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway / savethespeedway.net)(5-10-2011)
North Wilkesboro under the lights for first time: On Saturday, April 9th, the 300-lap green flag event known simply as "The Race" will crown its winner under the lights for the first time since Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway opened in 1947. Thirty-five generator set light towers, similar to those that provide light for road crews working at night, will allow fans to enjoy the fifth-eighths mile speedway's intense action in true Saturday night short-track fashion as 45 drivers battle for the $75,000 first place prize. Daytona 500 winners Geoff Bodine and Sterling Marlin are among the nearly 100 drivers who have entered the event, which will receive the green flag at 6 pm Saturday. Tickets are still available, more info at historicnws.com or savethespeedway.net.(4-8-2011)
Elliott's son wins first race at North Wilkesboro since 1996: Chase Elliott was a month shy of his first birthday when Jeff Gordon won the final NASCAR race at North Wilkesboro Speedway (HNWS), but Saturday the second generation driver was the historic track's master as he claimed his first PASS victory this season and the second of his career in the Labor Day Classic 200. "The car was awesome," said the 14-year-old Elliott, who led twice for 69 laps in the 200-lap green flag event. "This is a big win for us. I've always heard about this race track for a long, long time. For them to open it back up and come over here and run, I had a blast today." Elliott's father, Bill, who won three poles at the track but never a race, worked with his son during a test at the speedway about two weeks before the facility's first race weekend since 1996. "To come back and win the first race here after all these years that it's been closed, I thought it was pretty cool," said Elliott, who received the traditional Dawsonville, Ga., victory celebration - the blowing of the siren atop the Dawsonville Pool Room. Elliott plans to compete in the Oct. 3 USAR Pro Cup Series event at HNWS. In the track's other races Saturday, Mack Little III won the 50-lap Limited Sportsman race, Michael Tucker took the 25-lap Stadium Stock event, and Gus Dean emerged victorious in the 35-lap Allison Legacy Series feature. For more information on Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway and the schedule for the Oct. 3 USAR Pro Cup Series race weekend, go to www.historicnws.com. (9-5-2010)
Allison's Grand Marshal's at North Wilkesboro: Coming off a weekend of testing at North Wilkesboro Speedway bringing over 20 cars to an open testing session for the Labor Day Classic featuring the PASS Super Late Models, Stadium Stock, Limited Late Models, and Allison Legacy. North Wilkesboro Speedway saw legends returned to the track, over the weekend Chase Elliott son of NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Bill Elliott, graced the track turning solid laps for the upcoming 200 lap feature. Also turning laps this past weekend we saw the son of Dave Blaney turning laps and the 5/8th mile North Wilkesboro Speedway. On September 4th the 63 year old speedway will roar back to life when the ground pounding PASS Super Late Models run a 200 lap feature at the speedway, backed up by several support series.
Returning back to the speedway for the Labor Day Classic will be legends Donnie and Bobby Allison who will be the Grand Marshalls for the weekend throwing out the first green flag laps at the speedway since 1996 when the NASCAR Winston Cup Series ran their final race at the speedway. "This is a awesome deal to have to great racing legends return to North Wilkesboro Speedway and we are honored to have them" said Alton McBride, President of Speedway Associates. Tickets for the upcoming weekend are on sale at North Wilkesboro Speedway Tickets.(NWS)(8-31-2010)
Wilkes County Bristol Stop: Set in the Brushy Mountains of western North Carolina, lays Wilkes County with a deep history of NASCAR. It is the site of the North Wilkesboro Speedway which hosted NASCAR events for 50 years. This year on the way to Bristol for the races Wilkes County will be hosting the First Annual "Bristol Stop" on race weekend, Wilkes County hotels will be offering deeply discounted hotels at several of the local hotels that include, Wilkesboro Holiday Inn, Addison Inn, and the Hampton Inn all in the Town of Wilkesboro and close to the North Wilkesboro Speedway, and within 2 hours of Bristol, TN. Anyone stopping in town on race weekend with a Bristol ticket will be able to take their ticket down to the North Wilkesboro Speedway and take a lap around the track in your street car. Also that weekend on August 21st at 7:00pm, Tim Dugger will be performing in concert at West Wilkes High School, tickets prices are $10 each and will be available during check-in at all participating hotels, all proceeds from the Tim Dugger concert will go to the Benny Parsons Athletic Complex to be built at West Wilkes High School. More info at savethespeedway.net.(8-18-2010)
Tickets on Sale for 2010 Events at North Wilkesboro: Coming off a historic week at North Wilkesboro Speedway in which the power has been turned on and renovations are in full swing for the 2010 season, North Wilkesboro Speedway will begin ticket sales for all events scheduled this year on Monday March 22, 2010 at 8:00 am through the Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway website. After months of planning and finding the right solution for the speedway Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway partnered with Alabama based ticketing company Ticket Biscuit. "This has been several months in the works, to make sure the solution worked well with our ticket office" said Steven Wilson.(North Wilkesboro Speedway)(3-22-2010)
Naming rights for North Wilkesboro Speedway? UPDATE: hearing that an announcement is near where Goodyear Tire & Rubber company has agreed to naming rights of North Wilkesboro Speedway. Goodyear Speedway? More info about the track and races to be held there in 2010 at historicnws.com and savethespeedway.net.(1-13-2010)
UPDATE: Speedway Associates Inc. and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company announced a 3 year Presenting Sponsor of North Wilkesboro Speedway Presented by Goodyear. "This is simple, old fashion short track racing at its best, which is why Goodyear is involved" Justin Fantozzi, Global Marketing Manager for Goodyear.
As part of the Presenting Sponsorship to North Wilkesboro Speedway, Goodyear has also been named as the Presenting Sponsor of the North Wilkesboro Speedway/Goodyear Benevolent Fund. This fund has been specifically created as a direct benefit to drivers and drivers families in need. Over the next 3 years North Wilkesboro Speedway Presented by Goodyear will be rolling out a small line of motorsports collectibles that will commemorate Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway Presented by Goodyear. "This is big in so many ways. The marketing partnership is old school simple and something that people nationwide will understand. The fans get it, short track fans, and racers understand and the will grow to see exactly what this partnering alliance means specifically to benefit on the short track level and beyond. Fact is, now not only is SAI doing the right thing for the right reasons, but major players have studied the plan, they have done their home work and they are stepping out to make the difference to preserve and improve our short track racing heritage. Time is of the essence and we are excited that Goodyear has made this commitment at Historic NWS directly benefiting short track racers and fans. Speedway Associates Inc. is proud to align with Goodyear in their giving back in a huge tangible way." Dave Ehret, Race Director, Speedway Associates Inc. During the next 3 years, Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway Presented by Goodyear will be working NWS opportunities with Goodyear Tire and Rubber retail stores as well.(Speedway Associates PR)(1-14-2010)
Movie being made about stock car racing: If you happened to drive by North Wilkesboro Speedway on Thursday [Dec 17th] afternoon, you may have heard the rumble of a flathead Ford making a few laps around the historic five-eighths mile circuit. It was all part of a music video shot at the track for a new song by recording artist Matt Dylan and members of the Midnight Steel Band titled "Carolina Moonshine." The music video is part of a larger production, a movie called "Red Dirt Rising." The movie is based on the book "Red Dirt Tracks," a work of historical fiction by Gail Gurley. The film is centered on the life of Jimmie Lewallen, as well as fellow drivers Bill Blair and Fred Harb, all of whom raced and ran moonshine. Set during the 1940s, the film is meant to accurately portray the life and times of those involved with stock car racing before NASCAR was a household name. "Red Dirt Rising" is scheduled for official release on Jan. 13 at Johnny and June's Saloon in Winston-Salem, NC.
Two of the big players behind the production of "Red Dirt Rising" are Gary Lewallen and Bill Blair Jr. Lewallen and Blair are the sons of drivers portrayed in the film, the late Jimmie Lewallen and Bill Blair. Blair, who volunteered his flathead 1939 Ford for the music video, hopes that the movie paints an accurate picture of what life was like for drivers back in those days.
Proceeds from both the film and the soundtrack will be put toward the Racing Legends Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization for which Lewallen took the chair after his father died in 1995. The shoot was closed to the public. NASCAR legend Junior Johnson and son Robert also appeared in the video shoot.(Wilkes Journal Patriot) more info about the movie at reddirtrising.com or facebook. More info about North Wilkesboro Speedway at savethespeedway.net and historicnws.com.(12-29-2009)
USARacing Pro Cup race at North Wilkesboro in 2010: The dark cloud of uncertainty that has hung over North Wilkesboro Speedway for the last 13 years might have been lifting, but that didn't keep it from raining as new track owners announced plans to revive the historic facility. Still, little could have dampened the spirits of the crowd of 250 racing legends, media, local dignitaries and fans that gathered for the occasion. Racing, at long last, is coming back to North Wilkesboro. News of a USARacing Pro Cup event scheduled for Oct. 3, 2010, had already been released. The Speedway Associates Inc. ownership group that consists of Alton McBride Sr., Alton McBride Jr., Dave Ehret, John Burwell, Bosco Lowe and Terri Parsons wasn't finished. According to McBride Jr., the track will also host next year's American Speed Association 300-lap season finale in November, as well as a Pro All Stars Series event.(Stock Car History Online)(11-12-2009)
Press Conference at North Wilkesboro UPDATE: on Tuesday November 10th at 1:30pm/et there will be a press conference at The North Wilkesboro Speedway, located on US 421 in North Wilkesboro, NC. In a show of "Community Unity" Speedway Associates Inc. has opened this press conference to the public requesting that they come and sit in the stands to hear of plans to have racing back at the track in 2010. More info at Save The Speedway.(11-8-2009)
UPDATE: The ASA Late Model Series Presented by GM Performance Parts announced that the 'King's Ransom 300' has found a new home at the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway. The event will once again be televised and draw the top short track drivers from around the country to compete. "After talking with the new ownership group at North Wilkesboro Speedway, I know that we share the same vision of reviving short track racing", stated Ron Varney ASA Late Model Series President. "North Wilkesboro Speedway has a long history of short track racing and we are very excited to be able to carry on that tradition", finished Varney.
"On behalf of the Speedway Associates Team and North Wilkesboro Speedway, we are incredibly honored to have the ASA Late Model Series bring it's famed Kings Ransom 300 to our historic speedway. We commend everyone with ASALMS for working so very hard to continue the mission in saving short track racing abroad", stated Alton McBride Jr. President & Director of Operations SAI (North Wilkesboro Speedway). For more information about the ASA Late Model Series visit www.asalatemodels.com.(ASA Late Model Series PR)(11-10-2009)
Racing returning to North Wilkesboro? North Wilkesboro [N.C.] Speedway, a cornerstone in stock car racing's foundation and a track that occupies a special place in grassroots racing fans' hearts, will reopen next year with a coveted date in the USARacing Pro Cup Championship Series, it was announced Saturday during the drivers meeting prior to the series season finale Strutmasters.com 250 at South Boston Speedway. Scheduled for Oct. 3, 2010, the race will be on the traditional fall weekend that for many years hosted NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series from NASCAR's inception in 1949 until the track closed after its fall race in 1996. Its two Cup dates were then moved to New Hampshire and Texas. But with the dawn of the 2010 racing season, the 0.625-mile track will again assume its rightful place in the stock car racing community. "We are extremely pleased to be the first national touring racing series to return to the true roots of stock car racing," USARacing Managing Partner Larry Camp said. "We know the people of Wilkes County and the surrounding area of North Carolina have missed stock car racing on this storied track. "All of us at the USARacing Pro Cup Series are proud to be a part of this rebirth. Personally, I know the Staley family, Junior Johnson and the many stock car racing purists will mark Oct. 3, 2010, as a red letter day in the sport. I know Benny Parsons would be extremely proud of (his wife) Terri for helping return stock car racing to the county that he and his family so dearly loved." In addition to Mrs. Parsons, the new ownership group consists of Alton McBride Sr., Alton McBride Jr., Dave Ehret, John Burwell and Bosco Lowe.(Stock Car History Online)(10-31-2009)
- Charges Filed Against North Wilkesboro Lease Owner: A man leasing North Wilkesboro Speedway was arrested last night on three felony counts of obtaining property by false pretense in Wilkes County and on a fugitive warrant from Florida, according to warrants from the Wilkes County Sheriff's Office. The fugitive warrant charges Charles Collins Jr. with contracting without a license during an emergency and third degree grand theft, according to Capt. Steve Cabe, the chief of detectives. Cabe said Collins is also wanted on a fugitive warrant from Georgia, and that local authorities expect to receive that today. Authorities said the local charges are related to checks Collins made out to race car driver April Myers in the amounts of $1,000, $750, and $245. The checks were to reimburse Myers after she'd paid for a driving school that was to be held at the speedway but was canceled. Collins wrote the reimbursement checks when he knew there was not enough money in the account to cover the check, according to the warrants.(Winston-Salem Journal)(7-8-2009)
- Racing school at North Wilkesboro June 27th: On Saturday June 27th, Buck Baker Racing School will have an event at North Wilkesboro Speedway. They will be offering HOT LAPS (Laps will be sold for $20 each lap, minimum two laps) from 8am-12noon, And later depending upon attendance, This will be the real racing experience with side by side driving, Real restarts and much more. If you have any questions or would like to sign up, contact Thomas Heavey at (704) 453-9328.(6-23-2009)
- Racing School tests at North Wilkesboro: Four instructional drivers from the Buck Baker Racing School were testing North Wilkesboro Speedway in hopes of expanding their services to Wilkesboro. The owner of Buck Baker Racing School, Jeff Bowyer, said although the track, which was closed in 1996, may not be the prettiest the racing surface isn't bad. Bowyer said, "I believe we will have the racing school here. The track is not in that bad of condition. It looks a little ugly because there's no paint on the walls, [but] as for the track surface itself, I've raced on worse. The cracks aren't big enough to worry about. Nothing's coming up out of the track, and that's what we were worried about; chunks coming out of the track. Right now, we see nothing like that." Charles Collins, who is leasing the track for three months from Bruton Smith, said he is hoping to get the cracks in the track patched and paint the walls. A reality television show is also in the works to be shot at the track. The program will be called "Women, So You Think You Can Race?" and Collins said he hopes to begin shooting next month. Collins also said he hopes to hold a late model race [2 scheduled races were already cancelled] at the track before the end of the summer. As far as the Buck Baker Racing School, Bowyer said former students who have driven at other tracks have already showed great interest in driving at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Bowyer said if enough interest is shown, the track is in such good condition that they could hold a racing school session as early as next week.(GoBlueRidge.net)(6-20-2009)
- Buyer for North Wilkesboro? North Wilkesboro Speedway sat dormant for nearly 14 years until this spring when a Georgia man leased the property from its owner, Speedway Motorsports. Now that company's chairman says that the 62-year-old track may soon have a buyer. "I have people coming in tomorrow who want to buy it," Smith said during a telephone interview on Tuesday. "I'm not sure if they have money or not - if not, it'll be a short meeting - but they're very serious about it." Smith wouldn't say who 'they' are. The meeting Wednesday is not with the man leasing the track, Charles Collins, though Collins says he wants to buy the track after his lease expires in August. Collins' tenure at the speedway started in March with the purpose of using the facility to film a women's racing reality series. He also had plans for a tractor pull, concert and stock car race in May and June, but those events were canceled, reportedly because of a lack of sponsorship. Smith said that Collins' original lease, which expired in May, did not include plans to host a race. "I don't know exactly what his plans are, but he had the place leased for 90 days and had not been fortunate to get anything done," Smith said. "It's a shame, really, because I'd really like someone to do something up there and be successful." As to why Collins was granted an extension on his lease, "I guess he caught me at a weak moment," Smith said.(Running Wide Open)(6-18-2009)
- Racing at North Wilkesboro? Nobody was more surprised than Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith when a reporter suggested there would be racing at North Wilkesboro Speedway this weekend [May 29-30]. "You told me something I didn't know," Smith said.
He paused, then added, "You sure? Anybody going to be there?" If anybody knew the answer it would be Smith, who owns the track that hosted two Sprint Cup races a year until 1996. It has been silent since. "I own the place and it's for sale, but I did not know there was going to be anything there," Smith said. "The last time I saw it, it was just slowly returning to the earth."(ESPN)(5-28-2009)
- North Wilkesboro alive and well, even without racing: The roots of stock-car racing are located a few hundred yards north of Highway 421 in western North Carolina, a few miles southeast of the town of North Wilkesboro. Highway 2355, a two-lane paved rural road, winds around and over the rolling landscape, dotted with a few brick bungalows, some dilapidated mobile homes and a handful of corrugated metal-roofed chicken coops. Except in this case, Highway 2355 -- also known as Old Highway 421, or Speedway Road -- is the pathway to racing's roots. Shortly after World War II, local resident Enoch Staley had a brainstorm. Why not build a facility to give local bootleggers a place to race their modified hot-rods legally and perhaps make some money the honest way? Armed with an initial investment of $1,500, Staley and his partners bought some farmland and began construction on an oval to be named North Wilkesboro Speedway. See the full article, with many images of the track at NASCAR.com.(4-3-2009)
- What is up with North Wilkesboro Speedway? Officials of the Drivetech Racing School announced Tuesday that their plans for a racing school at North Wilkesboro Speedway, which was to have started tomorrow [April 2nd], have been canceled and that the owners of the school "will have no further involvement" with Charles Collins, who now has a three-month lease on the track. "I wish Mr. Collins well with his extensive, imaginative plans," said Mark Ebert, president of Drivetech Racing School. "However, Drivetech will not be a part of those plans." Ebert added that Drivetech has not been paid in any way by the speedway, nor has Drivetech accepted any money from any of the women drivers that Collins is recruiting for his reality series. Ebert visited the track on March 17 and said then that the speedway 'is not in suitable shape for us now, but we have assurances that the work will be done. Certainly the cracks in the asphalt need to be filled and the track needs to be sealed." He said this morning, Collins "told me that the track was going to be sealcoated, and that he would pay some attention to the walls and that the track would be ready to run. As of yesterday, I had asked for photos showing that all of that preparation had been done. For whatever reason, I never saw those photos and had to move ahead to other plans." The DriveTech SpeedCamp, said Ebert, will be held at Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway beginning tomorrow [April 2nd]. The camp was originally scheduled there but was offered, according to Ebert, free use of the speedway here. Collins had announced plans to host races for female drivers that would be a part of his AWSOME (All Women Stockcar Oval Motorsports Event) racing series. The first race was originally planned for March 14 but later changed to early May. Drivetech had also been in negotiations to provide race cars for the series. Ebert said "Mr. Collins never provided us with a contract which we could review. To us it was obvious that time was very short. Due to the lack of funding, we were unable to go further with this."
Collins said this morning that a contract with Ebert had been prepared and sent to Ebert but was never returned. As for the racing series as well as the concerts, Collins said, "Everything now is open. When we get ready to disclose details, everyone will know." Collins said that repairs to the track can be made "within a day" and that he had people waiting to repair the pavement. He added that he had made arrangements for other cars to use in the series, "and when they get here, we'll show them to you." After Collins twice ended telephone conversations this morning by hanging up, the newspaper was contacted by Keith Smith, the president of ICA Marketing, in Radcliff, Ky., which is handling public relations for the track. Smith said, "it was the intention to have a school here, but the time frame of Mr. Ebert was premature. The primary purpose of this renovation project is to have the reality show." Smith said, "I can't pinpoint a date at this time" for the first race. "When I have a date, we will release it. Our plans are to film it in the spring and release and air it in the summer." Smith said that he is in negotiations with a production team and that the contract is being edited.(See full story at the Wilkes Journal Patriot)(4-2-2009)
- Racing at North Wilkesboro? A developer has signed a short-term lease with the owner of North Wilkesboro Speedway and has plans to start a new racing series and reality show there. Charles Collins, who says that he is a 43-year-old Georgia native and developer, has set up an office at the speedway and has keys for the locks. During a tour yesterday, Collins said he has a short-term lease with Bruton Smith, the billionaire owner of the speedway. "Yes, sir, I believe he does," Smith said in a telephone interview. Smith said he didn't know details of Collins' plans, but that the lease is for about three months. The speedway is still for sale for $12 million to "whoever comes with the money first," Smith said. Collins says he plans to produce a reality racing show there called Women So U Think U Can Race? He also said he plans to start a racing series for women called the AWESOME Racing Series. AWESOME stands for for All Women Stockcar Oval Motorsports Event. "We're seeking women that want to go bumper to bumper," he said. Collins said he hopes to start production of the show at the speedway in March or April and to have ticketed events for the public. He also plans to promote concerts there, he said. Burned in the past by people who have announced pie-in-the-sky plans to buy and revitalize the North Wilkesboro Speedway but never did, officials in Wilkes County don't know quite what to make of the latest prospect.
Collins, who said he has been working on the project for the past year and has been in town for about four months, wouldn't say exactly where he had come from. He wouldn't answer specific questions about his past experience but said that he is a property developer who has built houses and had done some shopping-center renovations. He talked about needing sponsors for the new efforts. He said he hopes to eventually buy the speedway. In a 2002 interview, Smith said that the track is worn out and needs to be repaved, and that there are sewer problems there. Yesterday, Smith said that for what Collins is going to do right now, those improvements won't be necessary.
Collins said that the track is still in good shape. He said that the sewer is fine, and they can use portable toilets until eventually bringing in a main sewer line. "I got big plans for this place, and that's about as far as I'm going to go," Collins said. "We're getting ready to crank this place up."(Winston Salem Journal and Wilkes County News) and see a response by the Save The Speedway site.(2-26-2009)>
- North Wilkesboro could be bought as test track? NASCAR's sudden testing ban has Cup team owners and crew chiefs scrambling, and the latest report is that one major NASCAR Cup owner is now negotiating to purchase North Wilkesboro Speedway to use as a test track. The uphill/downhill five-eighths-mile track has been idle for more than 10 years since Bruton Smith and Bob Bahre bought it and took its two Cup tour dates to Texas Motor Speedway and New Hampshire International Speedway. The Wilkes County track has been used at times by car owner Jack Roush for driver tryouts, but it would likely need some major refurbishing before it could be used for serious Cup testing.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-16-2008)
- North Wilkesboro Speedway Highway Marker Dedication UPDATE: Save The Speedway and the North Carolina Office of Archives and History are scheduled to dedicate the North Wilkesboro Speedway Highway Marker on May 24, 2008 at 2pm with the following inscription:
"NORTH WILKESBORO SPEEDWAY"
Pioneering NASCAR dirt track. Built 1946; paved in 1958. Hosted sanctioned events, 1946-96. 5/8 mile oval 1/2 mi. E.
The dedication of the sign will take place on NC 115 to Old US 421(Speedway Road) at NC 2433 Exit 277, southeast of North Wilkesboro, North Carolina.(4-16-2008)
MORE: Scheduled to attend, North Carolina Senator Steve Goss, North Wilkesboro Mayor George Church, Terri Parsons. Opening remarks will be given by Senator Steve Goss and Ansley Wegner of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History followed by the unveiling and dedication of the historical marker by Sen. Steve Goss, Terri Parsons, with members of Save The Speedway. The inscription will ensure for generations that the history of North Wilkesboro Speedway will be preserved.(5-20-2008)
- Smith now owns North Wilkesboro: As part of his purchase of New Hampshire International Speedway from Bob Bahre, Bruton Smith also became "100 percent owner" of defunct North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway. Bahre and Smith had been reluctant co-owners of the track for 10 years.(Fort Worth Star Telegram)(11-8-2007)
- North Wilkesboro to be bought? UPDATE: This weekend 11 years ago, the NASCAR [now Nextel Cup, next year Sprint Cup] Winston Cup Series visited North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina for the last time. The then 50-year-old track was sold to other racetrack owners, who mothballed the facility after the 1996 racing season. Time has stood still at North Wilkesboro Speedway since that chilly September day. Banners still hang and tables are still set, and the track office is still filled with old ticket stubs and brochures. It's like the world locked the door to the track behind them that evening, and tomorrow never came. But rebirth for the speedway could be right around the corner if a land developer gets his way. Worth Mitchell, 33, says he's got a plan in place to buy the track within six months. After talking quietly for seven months with the track's realtor, Andy Stancil, Mitchell stands ready to revive the 61-year-old track. "This isn't the biggest deal I've put together, but this is a lot more than a deal," Mitchell said. "This is about reviving a town." The small towns of Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro lost millions of dollars to its local economy when the track closed. Since then, residents have watched many individuals and groups come in and try to reopen the racetrack, but none have been successful. But Mitchell has what the others didn't: money. "I know this track isn't going to be given away," Mitchell said of North Wilkesboro Speedway's $12 million price tag. "But it has all the potential in the world." Stancil says he's confident Mitchell can strike a deal with the track's owners, Bruton Smith and Bob Bahre. Smith and Bahre own several racetracks that NASCAR currently races on and bought North Wilkesboro Speedway in 1996 to take the track's dates away to bigger facilities - Texas Motor Speedway and New Hampshire International Speedway. The track went on the real estate market late last year. Mitchell says he's still looking for a few partners and ideas on what to do with the track. He said he would like to open up a neighboring hotel and retail center and host local concerts and festivals at the track as well as racing.(Ocala Star-Banner)(9-28-2007)
UPDATE: Mitchell said he is making headway in negotiations with Bob Bahre, Speedway Motorsports owner. There are many in the community cheering on Mitchell, including NASCAR legend Junior Johnson. "I think it will bring a lot of recognition to the county," said Johnson. "A lot of people would come for the (track's) past." In addition to the purchase price, believed to be in the $12 million range, Mitchell estimates it will take $2 million in renovations. Mitchell said if everything goes smoothly, he could have North Wilkesboro Speedway up and running by 2010. He estimates his odds are 50-50 of pulling off the deal. Speedway Motorsports officials had no comment on the negotiations.(MyFox WGHP)(10-1-2007)
- Benny Parsons Rendezvous Ridge and Savethespeedway.net will be hosting the first annual Wilkes County Racing Heritage Celebration September 29, 2007 from noon to 4 p.m. The event will be held on the grounds of the Wilkes County Heritage Museum at 100 East Main St. Wilkesboro, NC. The event will be free to the public. Scheduled to appear at the event so far are 1960 NASCAR champion Rex White and Lee Roy Mercer who will be on hand signing autographs and promoting his new CD "Gone Racin", featuring prank calls to NASCAR drivers. Also, on display for the event will be racing memorabilia from Benny Parsons Rendezvous Ridge, the sponsor of the event, and Winston Cup era memorabilia from the Winston Cup Museum out of Winston Salem NC. Live entertainment will be provided throughout the afternoon, and all are welcome to come join us in celebrating Wilkes County's contribution to the history of Auto Racing. More info at savethespeedway.net.(9-4-2007)
- North Wilkesboro Speedway Highway Marker Approved: Save The Speedway has recently received word that their application for a historical highway marker for North Wilkesboro Speedway has been approved. The application was submitted last fall, however a decision was postponed to determine proper verbiage for the sign. At the most recent meeting on May 18 the sign was approved with the following inscription:
"NORTH WILKESBORO SPEEDWAY"
Pioneering NASCAR dirt track. Built 1946; paved in 1958. Hosted sanctioned events, 1946-96. 5/8 mile oval 1/2 mi. E.
Plans call for erecting the sign on Old US 421(Speedway Road) at NC 115 southeast of North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, a dedication ceremony is planned when the sign is available. More details as they become available.(Save The Speedway)(6-7-2007)
- North Wilkesboro Speedway sold to real estate company UPDATE: Speedway Motorsports Inc.'s Bruton Smith said he and Bob Bahre [owns New Hampshire Intl Speedway], who each own half-interest in North Wilkesboro Speedway, have signed a deal with a real estate company to negotiate a sale of the land on which the defunct track now sits.(Thatsracin)(1-25-2007)
UPDATE" Smith talked about the possible sale of North Wilkesboro Speedway, which he bought half of about 10 years ago in order to launch Texas Motor Speedway in the Fort Worth-Dallas area. That move helped kick off 10 years of major expansion by the NASCAR Cup tour. Smith said that he and Bob Bahre, who bought the other half of the Wilkes County track and took that tour date to his Loudon, N.H., track, have agreed to put the track and land in the hands of a realtor, who, Smith said, thinks he can sell it. The price tag is, as it has been for several years, $12 million, Smith said. How to make a profitable return on such a $12 million investment has always been a question mark. Smith said it won't be for racing. "I don't think they're looking at it for racing, but rather other events, like a major national fiddlers' convention," he said. "I hope the buyer is successful in whatever he wishes to go. We'll have to wait and see. It was just a phone call with Bob. Bob and I have been getting along fabulously, contrary to what some have said. He just said 'Whatever you want to do....'"(Winston Salem Journal)(1-26-2007)
- Racing at North Wilkesboro looks dim for 2006: A group trying to bring racing back to North Wilkesboro Speedway is "back to square one" after a parting of the ways with a New York investment banker who was helping raise money to buy the dormant track. "It will probably be 2007 if we can do it," said Joe VanHoose, a spokesman for the Save the Speedway group that wants to return racing to the historic Wilkes County, N.C., track. VanHoose is at Daytona International Speedway this week looking for investors willing to contribute significant amounts toward purchasing North Wilkesboro Speedway from Bruton Smith and Bob Bahre. Smith has the track is for sale, but VanHoose said Smith has been "pretty firm" on his asking price of $12 million. Robert Smith, the banker who met with Smith earlier this year after agreeing to help with the group's effort, contacted the Observer Wednesday night and asked that his name no longer be associated with the effort. "I have parted ways with these young kids," Wilson said. The Save the Speedway group is headed up by Robert Marsden, a 24-year-old computer specialist from New York. "They just have no clue what business is all about." Wilson said the group told him it had agreements with several racing series to hold events at North Wilkesboro, and that he went to potential investors with that information. "When I asked to see the agreements what they showed me were letters of intent," Wilson said. "If I go out trying to raise money telling people they have agreements for dates, and then they get to negotiating contracts and things don't get worked out, then I have lied to these people. That's fraud." VanHoose said the Save the Speedway group did not misrepresent its letters of intent with racing series when it met with Wilson about being involved in the project. "We presented what we have as letters of intent and we never said we had signed contractual agreements," VanHoose said. "He misunderstood, and we have decided to cut our ties and go in a different direction."(Thatsracin)(2-17-2006)
- The first domino falls in North Wilkesboro: Organizers from Save the Speedway.net have a commitment from an investor for one million dollars to purchase one million shares towards acquiring North Wilkesboro Speedway. STS Motorsports is now searching for additional investors to purchase another six million shares at one dollar per share to finish the purchase from Bruton Smith and Bob Bahre.
The STS group has been actively working on finalizing steps to completing an outstanding racing schedule on the 5/8ths-mile track, once the proper funding has been arranged. Those people interested in investing should contact STS officials at savethespeedway.net, punch up staff and direct correspondence to President Robert Marsden. STS has also hired an investor banker to help with negotiations. The New York resident put together the original NASCAR TV package. STS announces and welcome Racing Electronics as their Offical Two Way Radio Communications company of STS Motorpsorts Inc and North Wilkesboro Speedway.(STS Site)(1-17-2006)
- North Wilkesboro over valued by Smith? UPDATE: Bruton Smith, the co-owner of the North Wilkesboro Speedway, has named his price to sell the track to Wilkes County government: $12 million. But county officials say the offer isn't reasonable for a depreciating track that requires a lot of work and is listed on the tax rolls with a value of $4.83 million. All five county commissioners have met during the past few months with representatives of a group called Save the Speedway. The group's Internet site gathered 4,582 signatures of support for getting racing again at North Wilkesboro. The Save the Speedway folks have also been talking to Smith. They love the track and say they have plans that could get racing there next year. What they don't have is financial backing. They want the county to buy the speedway, then lease it to them. But county officials say that Wilkes cannot take on all of the financial risk.(Winston Salem Journal) and more info about saving/buying/racin the track at: savethespeedway.net.(12-12-2005)
UPDATE: In a telephone interview Monday, Smith told The Associated Press that he and Bahre, who owns New Hampshire International Speedway, have set a price of $12 million for the property. Smith, who owns Lowe's Motor Speedway outside Charlotte and several other tracks through his Speedway Motorsports Inc., said he has offered to spend $1 million on improvements to the property as part of any sale. He said he also told the county he and Bahre will accept payment in tax-free bonds in lieu of cash. "One of my managers has talked to them (the county) a couple times" about the bonding idea, Smith said. "They thought it was a great idea."(ESPN.com/AP)(12-13-2005)
- Racetrack website gaining momentum to getting back on track: The doors may have been closed for nearly a decade, but conversation about the legendary North Wilkesboro Speedway has never stopped. The overall facility is currently owned by multi-track owner Bruton Smith and New Hampshire Speedway owner Bob Bahre. After being badgered by several interests, the most serious conversations concerning purchase are coming from a group determined to resurrect the race track to a weekly competitive facility. Forty-thousand seats may not be enough to keep up with Cup standards, but ample for many other purposes. The .625-mile paved track and its surroundings has been surprising well-kept and used on occasion by NASCAR teams for testing, most recently by Jack Roush in an effort to land next year's truck drivers in his 'Gong Show'. Since May 2005, the Help Save North Wilkesboro Speedway website has amassed more than 3,500 petitioners eager to see the track brought back to life.
Kenny Wallace is among the many signatures with demographics showing those interested coming from almost all 50 states and as far away as Canada with more than 20,000 hits to their credit. The group putting their heads and wallets together is spearheaded by Robert Marsden, Mike Kuver, Steven Wilson, Jerry Sink, and Todd Knaperek.
If successful, racing for next year is quite possible after several track and facility improvements are made. No. 1 on the list of 'things to do' will include grandstand repairs and a complete resurfacing of the track. Local county officials have recently expressed an interest in hooking up public utilities, namely water and sewer concerns.
Major sponsors also appear very interested in reviving the historic facility. Area residents and more importantly, area business' would welcome with open arms a chance to recapture some economic improvements since the track closed in 1996. Besides being a racing facility, other plans for the 110-acre site include area concerts, swap meets, shows of various kinds, driver education and high-performance driving schools, police and military training site along with private team testing. Those interested in supporting the idea of North Wilkesboro Speedway returning to action can punch up www.savethespeedway.net. If all of the careful plans by organizers fall into place, we might be hearing "Gentleman, start your engines." by late Spring 2006.(10-6-2005)
- North Wilkesboro: a website, www.savethespeedway.net has been started trying to save and re-open the North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Wilkesboro, NC. It has images and oher information. Why? the site states: The mission of this page is to reach out to people who want to see racing return to North Wilkesboro Speedway, and to win support to reopen this historic track. Bob Bahre got half of Wilkesboro and Bruton Smith got the other, so they each got a race date for their racetracks. In the mean time, North Wilkesboro sits unused and a town has been decimated by the financial loss because the two owners cant come to an agreement. This track would be perfect for the Busch series, truck races, ARCA, Hooters, Concerts, events, etc.(4-27-2005)
- North Wilkesboro News: Mike Staley, once president of North Wilkesboro Speedway, is now the Tour Director the newly named ASA/SMART tour, an American Speed Association-sanctioned derivative of the old Southern Modified Auto Racing Teams. "I believe the association with ASA will be great for the future of the SMART tour," said Staley. "It may begin a process of expanding the series a little farther out with its geography. ASA/SMART tour is a really great product ,and I feel there is potential for considerable growth."(Gaston Gazette)(4-10-2004)
- Residents want North Wilkesboro Re-Opened: Wilkes County residents [NC] are asking that the old North Wilkesboro Speedway be reopened to racing as a way to stimulate the county's economy. A petition asks that the county condemn the speedway so it can be sold to someone who will reopen the race track that once hosted NASCAR races. The track was one of the oldest on the NASCAR circuit when it was closed in 1996. Owners Bob Bahre and Bruton Smith bought the track so they could move the speedway's two Winston Cup race dates to larger, more modern tracks.(WRAL.com/AP)(10-22-2003)
- No Racing at North Wilkesboro? ever again? Bruton Smith comment: "I don't see North Wilkesboro (Speedway) ever coming back to life. It's history. A storm tore it up. It's had water and sewer problems, and the track itself is worn out. I offered $4 million to (co-owner) Bob Bahre to buy it all, but he wouldn't take it. Right now, I only have half a vote in what goes on over there. If I had it all, things would be different. Fans don't understand how much you'd have to spend to get it back like it was. Let's just forget about North Wilkesboro. It's fast returning to the earth."(Daily Press)(1-23-2003)
- Bruton Smith says it is not his fault about North Wilkesboro: O. Bruton Smith says it's not his call whether or not the North Wilkesboro Speedway may be sold to Junior Johnson. "I only own half of it. It wouldn't be up to me," Smith told The Record during a Monday morning interview. He added, "I haven't talked to Junior. I can't speculate on this." The North Wilkesboro Speedway has been closed since September 1996. It was sold to Smith and Bob Bahre after the death of track owner Enoch Staley. Johnson, a former racecar driver and NASCAR team owner, says he and a group of investors would like to buy the track and bring some type of racing back to Wilkes. Smith said if he had gotten his way in 1996, racing would have never left. "I had a plan when I thought I would be 100 percent owner," Smith said. He wouldn't elaborate on what the plan was, but said improvements would have been made to the track, which opened in 1947. Smith's attempts to buy the track for himself failed. Smith, the owner of Texas Motor Speedway, and Bahre, the owner of New Hampshire International Speedway, bought the North Wilkesboro Speedway to acquire the fall and spring race dates for their tracks. The total sale price was reportedly $14 million. Since the sale, the track has stood dormant. It didn't have to be that way, Smith said. "The people there had the chance to sell 100 percent to me," Smith said. "If that had occurred it (the track) would have been operating today. I offered Mr. Bahre a $4 million profit and he wouldn't take it. It's not my fault." Bahre has blamed Smith for the track's closure. He told The Record in a previous interview that he would like to see the facility used, but that he couldn't do anything without Smith's blessings. Smith said he's not going to risk his money on a track of which he only owns half. "I'm not going to put my dollars and people at risk as only a 50 percent owner," he said. As for Bahre, Smith said, "I can't remember the last time I talked to him about (the North Wilkesboro Speedway)." The Record couldn't reach Bahre for comment this week. Officials at New Hampshire International Speedway said he was out of town and referred all questions about the North Wilkesboro Speedway to him. Smith said that if he owned the track, he would have made substantial changes. Those would include installing a new sewer system, he said. "We would have spent a lot of money there and I was prepared to do it," Smith said. And, apparently, Smith has it to spend. In 1996, the year he bought half the North Wilkesboro Speedway, he was listed in the Forbes 400 as one of the wealthiest businessmen in America. Smith is also the founder of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., which owns the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Sears Point Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.(The Record)(1-10-2003)
- Racing back at North Wilkesboro? Racing will return to Wilkes County - if NASCAR legend Junior Johnson has his way. "I think there's an excellent chance that in less than five years, there'll be racing there again," Johnson told The Record during a Monday interview. "It'd make a great place for Winston Cup and Busch to test, too." Johnson, a former driver and Winston Cup team owner, said that he and a group of investors, whom he declined to name, are pondering the possibility of purchasing the track. Johnson appears to be ready
to participate in the purchase. If racing returns, it isn't expected to be Winston Cup. BGN and CTS racing are more likely candidates, Johnson said. The North Wilkesboro Speedway opened in 1947. The last race was held there on Sept. 29, 1996. Since then, the .625-mile asphalt oval has been silent and the 40,000 seats empty. The track's long career came to an end after the May 1995 death of owner Enoch Staley. The speedway was then sold to Bruton Smith, who owns Texas Motor Speedway [along with Lowe's Motor Speedway, Infineno Raceway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway thru Speedway Motorsports], and Bob Bahre, who owns New Hampshire International Speedway. The sale price was reportedly $14 million. The two bought the Wilkes track with closure in mind - they wanted the spring and fall race dates for their tracks. Bahre has said that he'd like to see the North Wilkesboro Speedway used, but says Smith isn't interested. And there's the snag. With Bahre and Smith reportedly not being on speaking terms regarding the track, little has been done. Johnson says several legal issues must be settled before any sale could be considered. "Bruton (Smith) won't do anything with his part," Johnson said. "Still, I think it's a possibility that once they get that over with something can be worked out." Neither Smith nor Bahre could be reached by phone this week. Johnson and Bahre, however, appear to agree that the North Wilkesboro Speedway would be suited for BGN and CTS racing. There has also been talk of weekly modified and sportsman division races. Wilkes has proven that it can be a successful host to special events. Johnson used the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival and MerleFest as examples. If the track reopens, he said, it could also be used during such events. There's also been talk of establishing a NASCAR museum in Wilkes. A museum here would be appropriate, Johnson said, due to Wilkes County's racing roots. When NASCAR left Wilkes, "It just absolutely destroyed the economics here," he said. During the two race weeks held at the speedway each year while the track was operating, thousands of fans filled motels and hotels in Wilkes and surrounding counties. Those fans ate in area restaurants and shopped at local stores. In more recent years, the race dates had shared the limelight with the Apple Festival and MerleFest as the three major drawing cards to the area. But, Johnson said, "The race track was the biggest of them by far." County Manager Gary Page, when told of Johnson's hopes for the track, said, "As far as the NASCAR fans in the county, they'd be thrilled to have some kind of racing back here." Page added, "As far as economic development, I'm sure that any kind of racing (at the speedway) would cause some spin off of benefits. We've always heard that if the track opens again, a lot of NASCAR teams would like to use it for testing." For the past few years, speedway owners and Wilkes County tax officials have disputed the tax value of the property - which includes the track, stands, 43.2 acres of land and two houses. A $9.5 million tax value has been listed by the county. Smith and Bahre say it's worth about $2 million. An independent appraiser valued the property at $7.2 million. The dispute will head to the state Court of Appeals, possibly in the next few months, county officials say. In the meantime, Smith and Bahre pay their taxes despite the disagreement. "They're good taxpayers," said Wilkes Tax Administrator Alex Hamilton. "They've already paid their (2002) bill." The annual bill is $72,000, Hamilton said. It is paid by North Wilkesboro Speedway Inc., in which Smith and Bahre each own 50 percent of the stock. County officials are hopeful once the tax dispute is settled, the track will be used again. About the possibility of a sale and reopening of the North Wilkesboro Speedway, Page said, "I don't see any negatives. With the economy the way it is, I just think it would bring back a little normalcy and stability to Wilkes County."(The Record)(1-3-2003)
- North Wilkesboro News: Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith, who owns 50% interest in the dormant North Wilkesboro Speedway, says he has no plans to reopen the historic track for any kind of racing. "The track is worn out and you'd have to rebuild and repave it," Smith said. "There is a sewer problem there that would have to be solved. There are so many things that it would take to get that track back up and running again." New Hampshire International Speedway owner Bob Bahre owns the other 50% of the track. "You can't make money there. We only own 50 percent of the track. I'm not going to waste money and people up there because I'm only a 50-percent owner." Smith denied rumors that he has talked to Junior Johnson, who lives in Wilkes County, about selling the track to Johnson or any group he represents. "I've talked to Junior recently, but he's never, ever mentioned buying the track from me," Smith said.(ThatsRacin.com)(1-18-2002)
- Johnson and North Wilkesboro: If Junior Johnson can persuade Bruton Smith and Bob Bahre to sell him North Wilkesboro Speedway, the stock car legend would like to open up a Junior Johnson Driving School at the famous short track and also run Busch and Truck races.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-16-2001)
- Johnson and Wilkesboro: Former Winston Cup star Junior Johnson, who won 50 races behind the wheel and six championships as a car owner, said Friday he has been involved in some efforts to reopen North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway, but doesn't see any progress on the issue. Bruton Smith and Gary Bahre jointly bought the speedway in 1996, but each used one of the track's two races dates for other tracks - Smith for Texas Motor Speedway and Bahre for his New Hampshire International Speedway. The North Wilkesboro track has not been open since. "I've put a little bit of effort into it," he said. "Not enough to start shooting at somebody, believe me. I think the Wilkesboro race track should be opened. It has a lot of potential, maybe not for Winston Cup, but you've got a variety of things you could do. Johnson, who is grand marshal of Sunday's Southern 500, said he has talked Bob Bahre, Gary's father and co-owner, about selling, but he has never committed to a sale. "I think he's to the point now where he doesn't even want to talk about it," Johnson said.(That's Racin') AND - North Wilkesboro Photo: Bob Hanner of The Stock Car Gallery stopped by North Wilkesboro Speedway after attending the Bristol race and took a nice shot of the track in it's current state, see the image at: North Wilkesboro Speedway August 26th 2001(8-29/9-1-2001)
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