WILKESBORO, N.C. - When Wilkes County Board Chair Eddie Settle told FOX 46 Charlotte on Monday that he wants a sit down meeting with Speedway Motorsports about reviving North Wilkesboro Speedway, NASCAR fans across the country perked up.
Settle didn’t get into specifics about the county plan for the track, how it would be funded or what would be discussed. That has left NASCAR fans wanting to know more.
The Wilkes County Board and the Town of North Wilkesboro Board both passed resolutions last summer expressing interest in any redevelopment of the track. Settle is the first to say he wants to meet one on one with Speedway Motorsports or SMI.
North Wilkesboro Speedway reopened for a short time in 2010 to host late model stock car racing. It has sat still ever since, not staging a race event in nearly 10 years. The track is in need of major repairs as some buildings have fallen to the ground.
FOX 46 asked Settle if Wilkes County would be willing to pay for some of the repairs.
“I promise you. We are here to help. If they need us [SMI], we are here. Whatever they need to get that track up and running, we are here to help,” said Settle.
The enthusiasm surrounding North Wilkesboro Speedway has grown over the past year. Dale Earnhardt Jr. visited the track last December, cleaning the surface so the iRacing simulation could scan the track.
The enthusiasm from county officials, town board members, and NASCAR fans come at a time when NASCAR is expected to make major changes to the racing schedule in 2021.
"This really is about the fans. We need to put on compelling racing and having full grandstands when we are doing that,” said NASCAR President, Steve Phelps, when talking about possible schedule changes in November of last year.
Wilkes County believes that North Wilkesboro is still a viable option for some sort of NASCAR racing due to its location in North Carolina.
"You're sitting, in my opinion, the seat of the northwest, we can fill that track,” said Settle.
When asked, Settle admits the possibility of Cup racing returning to the track may not be the best option.
Save the Speedway, a grassroots group formed in 2005, agrees that if North Wilkesboro Speedway opens again leaders of the track need to look outside the box.
"Yes, I would like to see some form of NASCAR, whatever that may be. I think you have to look at what series fits there today, not necessarily what fit there in 1996,” said Steve Wilson, from Save The Speedway.
Wilson believes a lot of work still needs to be done before any Wilkes County Commissioners meet with Speedway Motorsports.
Speedway Motorsports representatives told FOX 46 Charlotte Monday they have “no comment at this time” about the future of North Wilkesboro Speedway.
A meeting between SMI and Wilkes County has yet to be scheduled. FOX 46 will keep you updated when and if that meeting happens.