Hike funding

North Wilkesboro Speedway Gets North Carolina Government Support and Funding

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Govt. Roy Cooper talks to Dink Widenhouse after a speech at historic North Wilkesboro Speedway in Wilkesboro, North Carolina on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Widenhouse would race North CarolinaÕs dirt tracks and only raced North Wilkesboro one one time. He managed to get a pole position in qualifying despite finishing 19th in the race. The speedway hasn’t hosted a race in many years, but was once a common stop for early races in the Carolinas before it became NASCAR. Federal money donated to North Carolina will go toward fast lane revitalization and be a catalyst for other events in Wilkes County.

A month after it was announced that racing would return to the long-closed North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper took to the historic track to show state support.

The support was not just in appearance. Wilkes County is among those set to receive a large grant from the state Department of Commerce to benefit from a revitalization project at its local racetrack, which aims to improve the tourist economy affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 19. For Wilkes County, the track is the 0.625 mile oval in North Wilkesboro.

“This place has been a fabric of our community and our state,” Cooper said at an event attended by Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith, NASCAR team owner Richard Childress , NASCAR driver Harry Gant and Wilkes County officials, among others.

“It’s part of our culture,” Cooper said. “It’s really spiritual when you step into this race track. Someone compared it to a cathedral. It is, in many ways. I think people are going to be very happy to be back here and on some of the other highways in North Carolina that are going to be revitalized and rejuvenated with these investments.

The dissolution of the Motorsports Relief Fund involves $45.8 million split between local governments to help 17 North Carolina-based motorsports venues, with Charlotte Motor Speedway, Rockingham Speedway and North Wilkesboro being the three to benefit from multi-million grants of dollars.

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Richard Childress and NC Gov. Roy Cooper buckle up to do a few laps around historic North Wilkesboro Speedway in Wilkesboro, NC on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. The speedway hasn’t hosted a race in many years, but was once a common stop for riders first races in the Carolinas before moving on to NASCAR. Federal money donated to North Carolina will go toward fast lane revitalization and be a catalyst for other events in Wilkes County. Joshua Komer

Speedway Motorsports owns Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord and North Wilkesboro. He announced last month with XR Events plans to bring multi-week base races to the smaller track in August (on asphalt) and October (on dirt) before a repaving in 2023. A NASCAR race at the site appears still a long way off given the necessary upgrades.

“I like old cars, but I like to make resto-mods of them and this will be a resto-mod of a speedway,” Smith said, referring to classic cars that are restored and modified with updated technology. day. “There’s going to be all the cool, old history, but underneath we’re going to have working plumbing and working electrics, and we’re going to have a really safe and fun place where we can enjoy racing all year round, special events, you name it.

The speedway has largely fallen into disrepair since it regularly hosted NASCAR’s top series from the late 1940s through the mid-1990s, but efforts to return North Wilkesboro to its former glory have resumed in recent years. especially after a conversation between Smith and the unofficial NASCAR. ambassador Dale Earnhardt Jr. sparked public interest when the two discussed the track on Jr.’s podcast.

Smith previously thanked the NASCAR Hall of Fame driver for sparking discussion about the project and did so again Tuesday in his comments. Cooper thanked Smith.

“You kept running alive through it all,” Cooper said of SMI’s efforts during the pandemic. “When it came time for recovery, we thought of one of the best ways to invest in our people (and) to use American Rescue Fund investments to invest in our economy, our jobs and our tourism.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce said Charlotte Motor Speedway, which will host one of NASCAR’s crown jewels in the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29, welcomed 1.1 million visitors throughout 2019 and generated more than $25 million annually in state and local taxes. income before the pandemic.

Cabarrus County, home of the Charlotte Motor Speedway, lost more than $24 million in hotel revenue between March and September 2020, resulting in a loss of $540,000 in local taxes, the Department of State of Commerce.

“The (motorsports) industry contributes millions to our economy, employs thousands of North Carolinians, and provides special training at colleges, universities and technical schools across our state,” said the department’s chief assistant secretary. of Commerce of North Carolina, Jordan Whichard. “Thanks to these new investments, motorsport can positively exceed its pre-pandemic impact.”

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The speedway hasn’t hosted a race in many years, but was once a common stop for early races in the Carolinas before it became NASCAR. Federal money donated to North Carolina will go toward fast lane revitalization and be a catalyst for other events in Wilkes County. Joshua Komer

Money awarded under the Motorsports Relief fund can be used “for water, sewer and other highway-related infrastructure projects”, the Department of Commerce said. He also named improvements to the stands, walkways, bathrooms and “a variety of other facility needs”.

North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson said a “Moonshine and Motorsports Trail” will launch in 2023 as part of plans to boost tourism in the state and benefit to local economies. Details of the length and location of the trail were not disclosed.

Besides North Wilkesboro ($18 million), Charlotte Motor Speedway ($13 million), and Rockingham Speedway ($9 million), other state tracks receiving grants include Tri County Speedway ($485,000), Hickory Motor Speedway ($568,254), Bowman Gray Stadium ($530,020), Farmington Dragway ($507,654), GALOT Motorsports Park ($583,586), Coastal Plains Dragway ($485,000), Orange County Speedway ($39,738 ), Dixieland Speedway ($85,600), Caraway Speedway ($485,000), Rockingham Dragway ($485,000), Wake County Speedway ($537,511), Outer Banks Speedway ($272,920), Southern National Motorsports Park ( $557,770) and County Line Raceway ($196,232).

These grants will go through the local level, but the pathways are closer to seeing the impact of the money. Cooper’s visit to North Wilkesboro on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the first speedway race in 1947 showed support for its long-awaited revitalization.

NASCAR and Charlotte FC beat reporter Alex Andrejev joined The Observer in January 2020 after an internship at the Washington Post. She is a two-time winner of the APSE award for her coverage of NASCAR beats and winner of the National Motorsports Press Association award. She is the host of McClatchy’s “Payback” podcast about women’s soccer.
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