These are a few of the “ThrowBack” paint schemes
that raced at the Darlington Raceway’s BoJangles
Southern 500 – Labor Day Weekend 2015!
Below is a look back at the history of Darlington
“NASCAR Tracks from the Past!”
North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro, NC
NORTH WILKESBORO SPEEDWAY
A Pioneer NASCAR dirt track, it was built in 1946; paved in 1958. North Wilkesboro Speedway hosted NASCAR sanctioned events from 1949 thru 1996.
North Wilkesboro Speedway is a 5/8 mile short track that held races in NASCAR’s top three series from NASCAR’s inception in 1949 until its closure in 1996. North Wilkesboro Speedway was reopened in 2010 and briefly played host to several Stock Car series such as the now defunct ASA Late Model Series, USARacing Pro Cup Series (formerly Hooters Pro Cup) and PASS Super Late Models before closing again in the spring of 2011.
The track is located on U.S. Route 421 about 4 miles (6.4 km) east of the town of North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. It measures five-eighths of a mile (0.625 mi (1.006 km).
North Wilkesboro Speedway opened its doors on May 18, 1947, to a crowd in excess of 10,000 people who showed up to see one of the famous Flock brothers win the race.
On October 16, 1949, North Wilkesboro Speedway held the eighth and final race of the 1949 NASCAR Strictly Stock Division. At the end of the day Robert “Red” Byron walked away as the first NASCAR champion.
Citing North Wilkesboro Speedway’s age and lack of modern amenities and stating “Cash Rules Everything Around Us”, former New Hampshire Motor Speedway owner Bob Bahre and Speedway Motorsports, Inc. CEO Bruton Smith, who already owned several NASCAR circuits, purchased the track in 1996. North Wilkesboro’s spring date was given to Smith’s new Texas Motor Speedway, while the fall date was taken over by Bahre’s New Hampshire track and moved to early September as part of a schedule realignment. Since the sale to Bahre and Smith, there have been attempts and gestures to buy the track and re-open it by, among others, local native Junior Johnson.
The last Sprint Cup race was held there in September 1996, with Jeff Gordon winning.
In January 2007 during the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Media Tour, Bruton Smith announced that he and co-owner Bob Bahre had agreed to let a real estate company attempt to sell the track for the asking price of $12 million. On September 28, 2007 Worth Mitchell, a land developer, announced plans to purchase the speedway. However, Worth Mitchell estimates his odds are 50–50 of pulling off the deal and since that time there has been no further information. Speedway Motorsports officials had no comment on the negotiations.
Save The Speedway applied for a highway historical marker that was approved at the May meeting of the NC Highway Historical Marker Advisory Committee. Placement of the marker occurred May 24, 2008. The plaque reads:
“A Pioneer NASCAR dirt track, it was built in 1946; paved in 1958. North Wilkesboro Speedway hosted NASCAR sanctioned events from 1949 thru 1996.”
North Wilkesboro Speedway Records
- Richard Petty’s fifteen wins were the most in the track’s history.
- The last time a winning driver totally lapped the field on the way to the win was October 1994 at North Wilkesboro Speedway, NC when Geoffrey Bodine won, completing 400 laps while 2nd place was Terry Labonte who completed 399.
- The youngest driver to ever start a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at age 17 was Bobby Hillin Jr. who made his start on April 18, 1982 at the Northwestern Bank 400 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. This is no longer possible as NASCAR, per request of the Master Settlement Agreement signed with the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in 1998, was forced to mandate a minimum age of 18.
- Cale Yarborough is the first Cup driver to win a points-paying race on his birthday, on March 27, 1977 at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Kenny Wallace takes his last Green Flag at Iowa
When Kenny Wallace climbs behind the wheel of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the Aug. 1 U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway, it will be for the final time in NASCAR competition.
After 26 years on the NASCAR circuit, Wallace has decided to hang up the driving helmet after 547 career XFINITY Series starts. While he will remain a big presence on FOX Sports’ NASCAR coverage and at dirt tracks around the country, Wallace has decided it is time to move away from NASCAR competition.
“To me, this isn’t a sad moment; I’m at a truly happy place in my life right now,” Wallace said. “After all, not too many guys get to have the privilege of being a NASCAR driver, especially for as long as I have.”
The second-generation driver and youngest of the three Wallace brothers is planning on going out on top, as well. Piloting the always-fast No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in a one-off outing, the veteran driver hopes to contend for the victory at one of his best tracks.
“I really wanted to end my long career on a positive note and I’m really excited about our chances in Iowa,” he said. “The No. 20 team is one of the best in the sport and I’m looking forward to having a chance to end my NASCAR career with a great finish. I really want to thank U.S. Cellular for helping me make that happen.”
Wallace followed in his family’s footsteps and cut his teeth racing throughout the Midwest as his oldest brother, Rusty, made a name for himself in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
In 1988, Kenny, affectionately known as “Herman,” made his NASCAR debut driving Dale Earnhardt’s No. 8 Chevrolet in the XFINITY Series. Wallace would go on to score nine XFINITY Series victories, 66 top fives and 173 top 10s and finish in the top 10 in the series standings 10 times. Wallace came close to winning the 1991 championship, but four DNFs in the final 10 races of the season allowed Bobby Labonte to sneak by and win by 74 points.
Wallace made his Sprint Cup debut on April 22, 1990 at North Wilkesboro Speedway, starting 28th and finishing 26th after a crash late in the race. Kenny was part of the 1993 Sprint Cup rookie class, along with Labonte and Jeff Gordon.
Wallace went on to make 344 Sprint Cup starts, earning six top fives, 27 top 10s and three poles while driving for team owners such as Felix Sabates, Andy Petree, Bill Davis, Barney Visser, and having a short stint at Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Perhaps his top Sprint Cup moment came during the 2000 Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway when he helped push Dale Earnhardt through the field and to the win in the race. It would be Earnhardt’s final victory before his death at Daytona in February 2001.
Since moving away from a full-time role behind the wheel, Wallace has found a home in front of the camera at SPEED and FOX Sports, becoming a staple on NASCAR RaceDay and NASCAR Victory Lane on FOX Sports 1.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to turn my NASCAR driving career into another career doing something else I love — that’s working with FOX Sports on television,” Wallace said. “Those guys have been great to me and I get a lot of happiness from being able to educate the fans about the sport that I love. I’m going to stay involved in the sport through TV and I’m going to stay behind the wheel in my dirt cars, too.
“You know, everyone experiences change at some point and I’m honestly looking forward to opening the next chapter in my life,” he said. “As always, I promise that I’m going to have a lot of fun doing it.”
Fathers in the NASCAR Family!
Unwrecked car heads to Dale Jr.’s car graveyard
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has added another car to his infamous car graveyard in Dirty Mo Acres. And this time, the No. 88 ride features more than his own name.
Eighty-eight thousand names to be exact.
Added to the collection is his #88 car that raced at the Talladega Super Speedway on Nov. 1, 2009. In addition to his own signature above the driver’s window, the car also displays 88,000 names of Earnhardt’s fans and supporters.
Unlike most of the other cars in the Dirty Mo Acres Car Graveyard, this car didn’t wreck. Rather, it aided Earnhardt in leading nine laps before nabbing an 11th-place finish in the AMP Energy 500, a race ultimately won by Jamie McMurray.
“It was crazy, it was probably the first car we ever stuck out here I think that came right off the race track without a dent on it,” Earnhardt said.
Earnhardt has what he calls a racecar graveyard on his Dirty Mo Acres property near Mooresville, N.C. The racecar cemetery is the final resting place for wrecked cars and an outdoor museum of sorts for some of the most memorable wrecks in auto racing.
A car buff and a student of racing history, Earnhardt has been collecting wrecked cars for a while. And he usually doesn’t even have to go looking for them.
“It’s not like I go looking for every wreck that we have or anyone has,” he said. “A lot of times they’re offered up or I’ll call up a buddy that’s a crew chief or something.
“I don’t know why I want them or even why we go get them,” he said. “When JR Motorsports first started with Pro Cup and Late Model, we’d put so much money into building those cars. When we’d tear them up, I couldn’t see throwing them away or scrapping them so we’d stick them in the woods. So if we have 80 cars now, the first 30 or 40 are JR Motorsports or Late Models or something related to me or my company and we just kept plugging them in there.”
Once he started the graveyard, other drivers and teams began adding to the collection. It all started with a car that Dennis Setzer wrecked in a Nationwide race at Talladega.
Dale Jr’s one regret is that he can’t allow fans to come tour it on his property.
The 12 Most Memorable NASCAR Victories!