Construction at North Wilkesboro Speedway well underway ahead of 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race

NORTH WILKESBORO, NC — Work is well underway at North Wilkesboro Speedway as the historic facility undergoes a major face-lift in advance of the 2023 running of the NASCAR All-Star Race on May 21.

While many improvements are being made to the existing infrastructure, track officials say they are doing everything they can to maintain the historic look and feel that makes the .625-mile facility unique.

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“We want to maintain the patina,” said Steve Swift, Speedway Motorsports senior vice president of operations and development. “The facility will look like it did, as close as possible to when it was running back in the ’90s and the ’80s.”

That includes maintaining the historic murals and classic graphics that greet race fans when they enter North Wilkesboro Speedway. Those displays will be preserved, as will many of the other historic signs around the facility.

NASCAR last visited North Wilkesboro Speedway on Sept. 29, 1996, when Jeff Gordon triumphed in the 93rd NASCAR Cup Series race at the facility.

Work is well underway at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, to repair and replace old suites and buildings in advance of the 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race.  (Adam Fenwick/NASCAR)

Work is well underway at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, to repair and replace old suites and buildings in advance of the 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race. (Adam Fenwick/NASCAR)

In the time since that event, many of the structures at North Wilkesboro Speedway fell into disrepair. Track officials have worked with contractors to make sure any structures that need to be repaired or replaced retain a similar look and feel to what was there before the current construction project.

“We want to maintain these old signs and this old look,” Swift said. “When we get back here for the All-Star (Race), even the new construction and fixing all the stuff that is rotted, we’re trying to go back to what was historical and what was here.”

Perhaps the most significant change made thus far to North Wilkesboro Speedway has taken place in the infield, which has been completely dug up and will be repaved in advance of race week next May.

As part of that process, a major infield drainage issue that existed long before the track closed in 1996 has also been addressed and has now been repaired.

“We’ve addressed a lot of the drainage issues,” Swift said. “We would get rain, and if there was a big storm, the pipe that led out of Turn 2 was the only place the water could get out. We’d have a lake in the infield and on the racing surface. We could have speeded boats, but not cars. Those pieces had to be fixed.”

The process to repair and replace the retaining walls has also begun, with new concrete walls already poured into some areas of the track in preparation for the installation of SAFER barriers that are expected to be delivered in late January. New catch fencing will also be installed.

The pit stalls on pit road have been dug up and will be replaced with new, wider concrete pit stalls. North Wilkesboro Speedway previously had 43 pit stalls and will instead have 40 pit stalls once construction is complete.

The installation of a new MUSCO Lighting system, which will allow the NASCAR Cup Series to race at night at the historic track for the first time in history, is also in the planning stages.

“We’re putting in a new MUSCO system,” Swift said. “Those are on order. The foundations will go in in January, and shortly after that, there will be new LED MUSCOs. They’ll be able to turn on, turn off, dance the lights, spotlights, some cool features that will be really new to NASCAR.”

Construction crews work in the infield at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, on December 13, 2022. (Adam Fenwick/NASCAR)

Construction crews work in the infield at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, on December 13, 2022. (Adam Fenwick/NASCAR)

Swift said the track still plans to use the hydraulic lift to transport the winning race car into Victory Lane on top of the infield media center. There are also plans in place to refurbish the scoring pylon in the infield so that it’s operational in time for race week in May.

One of the most unique parts of the North Wilkesboro Speedway revitalization project will take place in Turns 3 and 4. Track officials plan to bring back the manually updated billboard that once stood outside the track and to use it when NASCAR returns to the facility.

“We came upon some old pictures that had the old scoreboard that had five positions and the laps,” Swift said. “Marcus (Smith) came across those pictures and was adamant that that goes back in place.

“We will have a physical person up there putting laps and the top-five positions up there every 10 laps on that board.”

A little more than five months remain before the NASCAR Cup Series returns to North Wilkesboro Speedway, but Swift is confident all the required work will be completed well in advance of the event.

“A lot of planning went into place in a short time frame,” Swift said. “[We] got a lot of people into place and a lot of those parts and pieces into place to make this all happen.”

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