The NASCAR Cup Series returns to North Wilkesboro Speedway this weekend for the first time since 1996. Understandably, fans, drivers and teams are excited about Sunday’s All-Star Race at the .625-mile course. It’s all part of the honeymoon phase.
But veteran broadcaster Dave Moody got it right and shared a warning with listeners on his SiriusXM NASCAR radio show this week, suggesting that if they don’t heed this advice, the fairytale story could quickly turn into a nightmare. And he is right.
NASCAR returns to North Wilkesboro Speedway
North Wilkesboro Speedway has its roots in NASCAR’s beginnings, stretching back to 1949 and the track’s inaugural race. Year after year, the Cup Series has returned to the circuit in the hills of North Carolina.
Then, in 1996, it all stopped. Just like that.
In the past few years, many individuals have begun to push for the return of the highway. Dale Earnhardt Jr. joined. to the case after he toured the rundown track while getting ready to be scanned for use in iRacing. Marcus Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports, which owns the track, also got on board.
In November 2021, the North Carolina State Legislature budgeted money to improve the track. Now 18 months later, NASCAR will be racing at the old, well-worn track with its updated facilities and modern accommodations.
A full house is expected.
Dave Moody is warning NASCAR fans about the future of North Wilkesboro
All the anticipation for Sunday’s race has been building since it was announced last year. But, as mentioned, these were years in the making. Veteran broadcaster Dave Moody spoke about this weekend’s race on his SiriusXM NASCAR radio show this week, and admitted he was as excited as anyone, but he also issued a stern warning.
“I feel like it’s deja vu all over again because when Andy Hillenburg and Billy Silas brought Rockingham back a few years ago – believe me when I tell you if you weren’t here – there was just as much excitement, just as much enthusiasm to bring The Rock back from the dead at that point in History as it now is to bring Wilkesboro back from the dead,” Moody said.
And we preached the same gospel back then. If you want Rockingham to stay, if you want it to come back from the dead and stay, you have to go. You have to convert. You have to buy tickets. And in the first year, it was new, and it was new, and it was Exciting, and everyone was excited. And they had a really good crowd. Sophomore year. Not so much.
And soon the sound of racing disappeared from Rockingham Speedway again. Again, it feels like deja vu all over again. But I’ll say it again. This is North Wilkesboro honeymoon period. They sold every seat they had this weekend. It will be a huge success.
But fair warning, my friends, if we, as a fandom, take this for granted and say, ‘Uh, you know, if I have something better to do next year, I’m not going. Someone else will fill my seat, and it’ll be fine. The same thing could happen in Wilkesboro as it did in Rockingham. I pray she never will, but she could.
‘Because the honeymoon only lasts so long. And then it’s down to the annual frequency of buying tickets and going to the races. If you want your track to be successful—whether it’s Wilkesboro or Rockingham or any other track in the country—if you want it to be successful, you have to support him.”
Fans have the final say
Sunday is a guaranteed success from the point of view of attendance based on the expected numbers. But this is in the first year. What will happen next year?
Will the fans have as much enthusiasm and, more importantly, show it by sitting in the stands? That is the big question.
In the end, the fans will, Moody said, decide the fate of North Wilkesboro. And no matter what happens, they can’t say they weren’t warned.
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