Final NASCAR Field to start at North Wilkesboro Speedway

Should NASCAR Bring Back North Wilkesboro?

It’s easy for longtime NASCAR fans to get sentimental. We live in a hi-tech digital age where everything is happening so fast that it’s easy for nostalgia to get lost in the fray.

We’re getting ready for Daytona testing while checking Bleacher Report for the latest in NASCAR news. We’re checking for the latest tweets from our favorite drivers while circling the calendar for our upcoming trip to the track.

With all of the up-to-date facilities on the circuit, it’s easy to forget that Darlington wasn’t the only track with a personality. It’s easy to forget that Martinsville wasn’t the only track with a history steeped in stock car racing. Have we forgotten about where Harry Gant’s quest for five consecutive wins was derailed in 1991? What about where Geoff Bodine lapped the entire field?

Have we forgotten about North Wilkesboro Speedway?

North Wilkesboro Speedway was NASCAR’s first sanctioned speedway. It was a small addition in the center of NASCAR country. While the sport had Talladega and Daytona, the short track in North Wilkesboro was a part of the sport for 50 years while names like Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough took checkered flags along with Bodine and Dale Earnhardt.

Speaking of Earnhardt, what about his heated interview in 1989 after a last-lap spin courtesy of Ricky Rudd cost him the race and ultimately the championship? Earnhardt’s disappointment could hardly be contained as Dick Berggren attempted to get Earnhardt’s side of the story following the incident. The incident is widely regarded as one of the most memorable moments in NASCAR history.

Now it stands a dilapidated relic, falling into disrepair while the sport continues to progress 18 years since its last major event at the speedway. It was on that day that a youngster named Jeff Gordon, fresh off his first Winston Cup championship, took yet another checkered flag in his No. 24 Chevy on his way to a runner-up finish in the points.

As all fans know, North Wilkesboro was just a stepping stone on the way to bigger and better things for Gordon. What if we never took it off in the first place? What if we kept it around for Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson to dominate and add to North Wilkesboro’s rich history?

We don’t have enough tracks like North Wilkesboro, and from a historical standpoint that is a shame. Drivers have come to prominence at the .625-mile race track. Championships have been won and lost there. The track has held a fine lineage of winners from Red Byron through Richard Petty and down to Gordon.

We’ve got a fine crop of drivers coming up through the ranks who deserve to have their legacies cemented at the same places their grandparents’ favorite drivers became legends. Darlington, Daytona and Martinsville aren’t enough. Besides, NASCAR would be paying a fine tribute to its history by bringing back more storied venues. It’s not like they can’t front a bill for renovations to the speedway anyway.

It would be a welcome addition to the sport. There are a few venues on the circuit that have overstayed their welcome in NASCAR anyway.

For example, barring the 2013 event at Fontana, it’s a likelihood that we’ll never see another exciting Fontana event. We could also switch Chicago’s Chase spot with one at North Wilkesboro. Anything would do, as long as we don’t have to see such a storied venue suffer the test of time.

Besides, where else could the winner walk to Victory Lane after the race?

VIA: Bleacher Report

Steven Wilson Interview with Finishline Radio in St. Louis

Save The Speedway Statement on North Wilkesboro Speedway Campaign

“After hearing from multiple people on our comments following announcing
our campaign to reopen North Wilkesboro Speedway, we feel the comments
seem to appear as they are being directed to the wrong people. The
people of Wilkes County both in the Government and private citizens of
the county are ardent supporters of the reopening of North Wilkesboro
Speedway, notably many private citizens have worked extremely hard by
putting their many talents to use to see something happen and we are
most grateful for their help and sacrifice to see this project through.

While our comments may seem to be directed at them be assured this is
not the case. As most might not be aware of earlier situations to revive
and reopen North Wilkesboro Speedway, ideas of space needles with a
spinning restaurant and stock car racing on ice have been floated by
previous attempts to open the track. STS Motorsports came out against
those efforts and our comments are directed at those ideas and groups
solely, as we are questioned on many fronts about our involvement with
previous attempts.”

Robert Marsden Interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Group launches community effort to reopen North Wilkesboro Speedway

STS Motorsports Inc. announced today they would begin work on saving North Wilkesboro Speedway once again, following the closure in 2011 after the PASS Super Late Models $100,000 To Win Race. While previous efforts to Save the Speedway have been met with pitfalls and mis-management, STS Motorsports Inc. has decided to reopen the issue and ask the community for help.

“In the past, no one has asked the community what they thought and how things could be done. We seemed to see people come in with grand ideas that fizzled out over time, while disenfranchising the motorsports community as a whole.” said Robert Marsden – Founder STS Motorsports Inc.

In the renewed effort, STS Motorsports Inc. will begin a donation campaign asking racing fans to join in this time and donate. In return, not only will you help save a historic motorsports landmark, but additionally, tickets, pit passes, and even get their name on a race or drive the pace car during one of the planned events once the donation campaign reaches it goal. 
“We will use our grassroots skills to bring the message to race fans giving them a return on their investment to lease and reopen North Wilkesboro Speedway” Said Steven B. Wilson

All fans and businesses interested in donating can find the campaign and information on Indiegogo at

The campaign will kick off using social media, word of mouth and help from the community willing to see North Wilkesboro Speedway reopened. All the information will be found on STS Motorsports website at or following along on Twitter @savethespeedway and on our Facebook page

One of Wilkes’ best known former moonshiners dies at 73

They buried one of Wilkes County’s best-known former moonshiners Monday.

Willie Clay Call of North Wilkesboro died Friday at his home. He was 73.

He died a farmer, but back in the day, he ran moonshine like his
father and grandfather and his lifelong friend, Junior Johnson, who was
an honorary pallbearer at his funeral.

Call didn’t take the same NASCAR path that Johnson did, but back in
the 1960s he liked to take his 1955 Ford out on the North Wilkesboro
Speedway during practice.

“Story he always told people was he outran Fred Lorenzen on several
occasions while out practicing,” said Steve Wilson of the preservation
group Save the Speedway.

“Fast Freddie” Lorenzen won the Daytona 500 in 1965.

In his later years, Call served as a link to the past. In 2002, Call
and Johnson lent a car and copper still to the Reynolda House Museum of
American Art for an exhibit on moonshining.

Call provided a car for filming when the Wilkes Playmakers needed
video footage as part of a play about Johnson. And he provided
moonshining items for the Wilkes Heritage Museum in the old county

He set up a demonstration still for film crews, working in
cooperation with the town of Wilkesboro in promoting heritage and

“He was a friend of the town,” said Wilkesboro Town Manager Ken Noland.

One of Call’s survivors is his brother, Norman, who was not a moonshiner and is a former mayor of Wilkesboro.

Willie Clay Call opened his garage to Hot Rod magazine in 2005,
showing the magazine more than a half-dozen cars. These weren’t replicas
of moonshine cars. They were cars that had logged thousands of miles
hauling illegal liquor.

His favorite was a 1961 Chrysler New Yorker, a big-finned car that could do 180 mph, he said.

At a reunion of bootleggers and revenuers a few years ago, Call sat
in a rocking chair on stage as people swapped stories about how things
used to be.

One of the law enforcement agents recalled Call as “uncatchable.”

Charles Mercer was one of the former revenuers at the gathering in
2009. He told a story about his last day on the job in 1974, when he was
determined to catch Call. Mercer staked out Call’s home for hours.

It didn’t do any good, and Mercer called to have a fellow agent pick him up.

Call came out to meet them.

“I understand you’re leaving,” Call told Mercer. “I really appreciate the way you’ve done your job.”

Winston-Salem Journal

Willie Clay Call passes away

Clay Call July 11, 1939 – August 3, 2012 Mr. Willie Clay Call, age 73,
of North Wilkesboro died Friday, August 3, 2012 at his home. Funeral
services will be held Monday 2:00 p.m., August 6, 2012 at
Reins-Sturdivant Chapel with Rev. Ken Pardue, Mr. Bill Anderson and Dane
Mastin officiating. Burial will be in Oak Forest Baptist Church
Cemetery. The family will receive friends Monday from 12:00 to 1:45 p.m.
at Reins-Sturdivant Funeral home prior to the service. He was born July
11, 1939 in Wilkes County to Willie Simon and Beatrice Cothren Call. He
was a longtime farmer. In addition to his mother and father, he was
preceded in death by a brother, Simon Talmadge Call and a sister,
Virginia Call Shore. He is survived by: his wife, Judy Anderson Call of
the home; two sons, Clay Keith Call and wife, Samantha, Brian Neal Call
and wife, Laura all of North Wilkesboro, five grandchildren, Nicole
Call, Zachary Call, Austin Call, Caroline Call, Mia Call, two sisters,
Lucille Greene of West Jefferson, Joyce Parker of North Wilkesboro; two
brothers, Norman Call and wife, Beulah of Wilkesboro, Alvin Call and
wife, Karen of North Wilkesboro; brother-in-law, Blaine Shore of
Kannapolis; brothers and sisters-in-law, Pete and Betty Shew of
Wilkesboro; Ray and Mary Blackburn of Concord; Wayne Shew, a special
great nephew, along with several other nieces and nephews. Flowers will
be accepted or memorials may be made to the
charity of the donor’s choice


Wife of North Wilkesboro Speedway founder Passes Away

Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Staley, age 95, of Brown Ridge Road, North

Wilkesboro, widow of NASCAR pioneer Enoch R. Staley, died Friday, March

30, 2012 at her home. Funeral services will be held Sunday, 2:00 PM,

April 1, 2012 at Fishing Creek Baptist Church with Rev. Darrell Poole

officiating. Burial will be in Antioch Baptist Church Cemetery. The

family will receive friends Saturday evening from 6 until 8 at

Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home, North Wilkesboro, NC. Mrs. Staley was

born February 16, 1917 in Wilkes County to Walter S. and Geneva Brooks


Before retiring, she was the ticket office manager at the North

Wilkesboro Speedway. Mrs. Staley was a member of Fishing Creek Baptist

Church. She was preceded in death by a sister, Luna Secrest; four

brothers, Glen Pennell, Elbert “Dude” Pennell, Willie Pennell and Lee

Pennell. She is survived by: two daughters, Jane S. Pardue and husband,

Fred of Clemson, SC; Maxine S. Miller and husband, Terry of Charlotte;

one son, Mike Staley and wife, Arlene of North Wilkesboro;

grandchildren: Keith Pardue and wife, Cathy of Fort Lauderdale, FL,

Kerry Pardue and wife Sherri of Clemson, SC, Kristi Baker and husband,

Daryn of Augusta, GA, Ashley Marston and husband, Tim of Columbus, GA,

Mary Anne Snyder and husband, Randy of Lexington Park, MD, Shane Staley

of North Wilkesboro, Michael Hall and wife, Amy of New York, NY, Johnny

Hall of Charlotte; great-grandchildren: Stefanie Pardue, Kevin Pardue,

Casey Pardue, Caitlin Pardue, Jonathan Baker, Joshua Baker, Elizabeth

Baker, Rebecca Marston, Hannah Marston, William Marston, and Hannah

Staley. Flowers will be accepted or memorials may be made to Fishing

Creek Baptist Church Organ Fund, 925 Old Hwy 60, Wilkesboro, NC 28697.

Online condolences may be made at

Upcoming Project from STS Motorsports and

Here’s a little teaser on an upcoming project we have been working on with
STS Motorsports over the winter.. More information coming in the next couple of weeks. Enjoy.

Efforts for speedway resume

After the North Wilkesboro Speedway’s much heralded reopening in 2010 ended abruptly this past May, efforts to bring the historic track back to life are under way again.

The latest efforts involve putting together a group of investors to buy the track property from Charlotte-based Speedway Motorsports, said Terri Parsons of Purlear, Wilkes Chamber of Commerce board chairman and widow of Wilkes County native and NASCAR celebrity Benny Parsons.

Mrs. Parsons said that while Parsons was in the hospital a few weeks before his death from lung cancer in January 2007, the couple made a list of 10 goals they wanted to accomplish in Wilkes County. She said the return of motorsports racing to the North Wilkesboro Speedway was the only one still unfulfilled.

 “We have had people go talk to Bruton Smith (Speedway Motorsports chairman and chief executive). He is willing to sell, but he isn’t interested in renting it as before,” said Mrs. Parsons, referring to Speedway Associates Inc.’s lease of the speedway from Speedway Motorsports.

Buying the North Wilkesboro Speedway “is being pursued from a lot of different avenues,” she added.

Media reports have listed $12 million as the asking price for the speedway.

Mrs. Parsons said Smith’s attorney told her during an event at her Rendezvous Ridge Winery near her home that Speedway Associates’ three-year lease, which included an option to purchase the speedway, expired June 30, 2011.

Speedway Associates President Alton McBride Jr. of Lake Norman announced the lease with an option to purchase in late 2009.

“We waited in a timely fashion to make sure we weren’t stepping on the agreement” with Speedway Associates. “We wish Alton (McBride) nothing but the best.”

Mrs. Parsons said McBride “proved to the motorsports racing world and the local community (in Wilkes) that the North Wilkesboro Speedway was a viable product. It was the first speedway sanctioned by NASCAR and that makes it historic.”

Speedway Associates brought the first races to the historic track since its last NASCAR race in September 1996 when four Pro All Stars Series races were held Sept. 4 and 5, 2010. There were other races and events later in 2010 and the 2011 season kicked off with a Super Late Model Race race on April 7-9.

Then, on the night of May 8, McBride, issued a press release saying the speedway was closed due to lack of money. The remaining schedule of events that year, including six weekends of racing and three weekends of other events, was cancelled.

In a closed session meeting with Wilkes County commissioners on May 18, McBride unsuccessfully sought financial assistance from county government.

Responding to a request from the Wilkes Journal-Patriot for an update on his involvement with the speedway, McBride stated in an email last week, “I have had no dealings regarding the North Wilkesboro Speedway since the day of the last commissioners response of ‘no financial or incentive involvement for HNWS.’ That action on their part seems to have put the final nail in the coffin of that facility as far as anyone is concerned in the motorsports industry.”

He added, “You cannot expect any business group to make a home in an environment that is all take without any give. I have been busy on other positive opportunities and have not heard a word about the past other than all the great things achieved and the further missed opportunities.”

Keith Walsh, Wilkes County building inspections department director, said no one has approached his department about improvements needed at the speedway since McBride.

The speedway opened in 1946 as a dirt track. It hosted NASCAR fall and spring races until it was closed after losing these race dates.

Wilkes Journal Patriot