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3 Of The Most Iconic Racetracks In North Carolina

North Carolina is a state with a rich racing history. The sport has its roots in the prohibition era, with bootleggers having to outrun the police before realizing racing each other might be worthwhile. These days are long gone, but the Tar Heel State’s racing legacy remains.

Racing has always been a fan favorite in NC, yet the advent of legalized sports this year will likely increase its popularity within the state and stir up even more fan engagement.

Racing In North Carolina

Sports betting in North Carolina has also been a significant part of the racing culture in the state, dating back to the early days of the sport, though not legally.

In the early 20th century, illegal activities popped up to allow patrons to enjoy on the outcome of races. Betting on races became more regulated over time, and today, fans can legally place near the NASCAR races at various sportsbooks.

The excitement of camping on races adds an extra layer of thrill to the already intense competition, and it's clear that racing will continue to be a part of North Carolina's racing culture for years to come.

Sportsbooks rolled out in the state just in time for the NCAA Tournament this year after a lengthy wait, but fans will have an opportunity to watch all of their favorite sports throughout the year, including racing.

Three Of North Carolina’s Most Iconic Tracks

The state boasts multiple iconic tracks, three of which we discuss below.

Charlotte Motor Speedway, affectionately known as America's Home for Racing, has been the site of some of NASCAR's biggest yearly races since its inception in 1960. The track's construction was a challenge, as founders Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner discovered they needed to remove granite from the property, which led to cost overruns and bankruptcy.

Despite the setbacks, the track has hosted some of the most exciting races in NASCAR history and is now a bustling sporting arena.

One of the most memorable races in the history of Charlotte Motor Speedway was the 1984 Coca-Cola 600, where seven drivers held the lead in the final 100 laps. Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, and Cale Yarborough were among the drivers who exchanged the lead multiple times in the final laps, with Petty ultimately emerging victorious. The race is considered by many to be one of the greatest in NASCAR history.

Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsborough, NC, was the site of thousands of races and saw racing legends such as Richard Petty Sr., Junior Johnson, and Ned Jarrett grace its one-mile dirt track. The track was known for being one of the few that exceeded a half-mile in length, but it also gained notoriety as one of the most dangerous due to the lack of guardrails.

The Sunday racing schedule eventually led to opposition, and the final race on the track was a Richard Petty victory in 1968. The speedway property was eventually purchased by history preservationists and turned into a hiking trail.

North Wilkesboro Speedway was built in 1945 and served as a turf to settle standards among local moonshiners who wanted to find out whose souped-up car was fastest.

The track was home to NASCAR races from 1949 to 1996 and was known for being one of the fastest short tracks in auto racing, with speeds reaching 73 miles per hour. The track was abandoned for many years until Dale Earnhardt Jr. led a volunteer effort to revive it, and NASCAR announced it would host its 2023 All-Star race at the track.

These three tracks represent North Carolina's rich racing legacy and have each contributed to the sport in their own unique way. From the challenges faced during construction to the dangers of the tracks themselves, each of these venues has a story to tell and a place in the hearts of racing fans.

The history and significance of these tracks cannot be overstated, and they continue to be an important part of the NASCAR landscape today.

North Carolina Has A Few More Famous Tracks

The aforementioned tracks aren’t the only popular racing venues in North Carolina.

There’s also the Hickory Motor Speedway in Newton, nicknamed the “Birthplace of NASCAR Stars” as it’s been a starting point for some of the most famous drivers.

Rockingham Speedway, now closed, is famous for Will Ferrell’s character, Ricky Bobby, having driven a 2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo there for the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.