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How Richard Petty’s legacy lives on at North Wilkesboro Speedway

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How Richard Petty’s Legacy Lives On at North Wilkesboro Speedway

Richard Petty is a legend in NASCAR history, with 200 wins and seven championships to his name. But did you know that he also had a special connection to North Wilkesboro Speedway, a historic track that has been abandoned since 2011?

In this blog post, we’ll explore how Petty made his mark on North Wilkesboro Speedway, what happened to the track after he retired, and why it still holds a place in the hearts of many racing fans.

The King of North Wilkesboro

Richard Petty made his debut at North Wilkesboro Speedway in 1958, when he was just 21 years old. He finished sixth in his first race, driving a car owned by his father, Lee Petty.

Over the next three decades, Petty would dominate the track, winning 15 times and leading more than 3,000 laps. He also set several records at North Wilkesboro, including the fastest qualifying lap (117.608 mph in 1982) and the most consecutive wins (five in 1967).

Petty’s last win at North Wilkesboro came in 1984, when he beat Darrell Waltrip by a mere 0.8 seconds. It was his 199th career victory, setting him up for his historic 200th win at Daytona a few weeks later.

The Fall of North Wilkesboro

North Wilkesboro Speedway was one of the original tracks on the NASCAR schedule, hosting its first race in 1949. It was known for its short length (0.625 miles), tight turns, and steep banking.

However, as NASCAR grew in popularity and moved to bigger and newer venues, North Wilkesboro struggled to keep up. The track lacked modern amenities, such as luxury suites, grandstands, and lights. It also faced competition from other nearby tracks, such as Charlotte Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway.

In 1996, NASCAR decided to drop North Wilkesboro from its schedule, citing low attendance and lack of interest from sponsors and broadcasters. The last race at the track was held on September 29th, 1996, with Jeff Gordon taking the checkered flag.

Since then, North Wilkesboro Speedway has been left to decay, with weeds growing over the asphalt, seats falling apart, and buildings crumbling. The track has been occasionally used for testing and filming purposes, but no major racing events have taken place there.

The Revival of North Wilkesboro

Despite its sad state, North Wilkesboro Speedway still has a loyal fan base that hopes to see it restored and reopened someday. Several efforts have been made to revive the track over the years, but none have succeeded so far.

One of the most notable attempts was made by Dale Earnhardt Jr., who visited the track in 2009 and filmed a documentary about its history and condition. He also helped create a digital version of the track for the iRacing simulator game, allowing fans to virtually race on it.

Another recent initiative was launched by Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World and a sponsor of NASCAR’s Truck Series. In 2020, he offered to fund a race at North Wilkesboro if someone could get the track ready for it. He also suggested that Richard Petty could be involved in the project.

Whether these or other proposals will ever come to fruition remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: Richard Petty’s legacy lives on at North Wilkesboro Speedway, and many people would love to see him back there one more time.


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Written by John Wich

John Wich is a skilled news writer dedicated to delivering informative and captivating stories to readers. With a passion for uncovering the truth, John's writing reflects his commitment to accuracy and engaging storytelling. His expertise in journalism ensures that he provides valuable insights on a wide range of topics.

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