Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Host a CARS Tour Late Model Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway
During a live recording of the Download Dale Jr. podcast in Nashville, Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced that he will be racing the CARS Tour late-model stock car race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on August 31. The event will be among the first held in North Wilkesboro as part of the track’s revival, a process that Earnhardt played a vital role in.
The event will mark the NASCAR Hall of Famer’s first late-model stock car race since 1997 — the year before it transitioned to what is now the NASCAR Xfinity Series — and its first race at North Wilkesboro since 1995. Earnhardt recently tested a JR Late Model Motorsports model on the circuit alongside JR Motorsports Xfinity Series driver Josh Berry and late model driver Carson Kvapil.
“I’ve wanted to drive our cars for a very long time, but just didn’t have the guts to do it. When we talked about bringing North Wilkesboro back, if they were to have a late model stock race there, it was too much to pass up,” Earnhardt said.
Earnhardt was a major advocate for North Wilkesboro in a series of events that eventually led to the trail’s reopening after being largely abandoned for the past quarter century. In 2019, Earnhardt helped lead an effort to clean up the track so it could be scanned and digitized for use on iRacing, and he would later speak to North Carolina state lawmakers to back a budget from the race. state that would allocate $18 million to infrastructure improvements at both North Wilkesboro and Rockingham Speedway, another classic NASCAR racetrack that has been dropped from the schedule due to the sport expanding into larger markets.
thanks to the American bailout helped breathe new life into North Wilkesboro. The track – located in far western North Carolina, where stock car racing began – was a NASCAR institution from 1949, but fell into disuse in the mid-1990s when the track’s owner, Enoch Staley, passed away. Following Speedway Motorsports Inc.’s purchase of the speedway, the track was closed at the end of the 1996 season with its two dates moved to new facilities.
In April, Speedway Motorsports Inc. announced North Wilkesboro would be reopened with a focus on hosting grassroots touring series and potentially attracting a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in the future. Several asphalt racing classes will compete on the track in August, and dirt racing classes will race in October between the old track asphalt being torn up and a new asphalt surface being laid for 2023.
Earnhardt will continue his family’s racing legacy in North Wilkesboro, as his father enjoyed great success at the track. Dale Earnhardt has a total of five Cup Series wins at North Wilkesboro, a mark that ranks third in track history and tied with Cale Yarborough.