Saturday, May 10, 2014
North Wilkesboro Speedway
Paul took me to the grandstand just at the start-finish line. The place is in pretty poor shape. Buildings are in disrepair, and grass has invaded the once proud track surface. Paul had worked for NASCAR almost all his adult life, knew all the names, and all the stories. Said Tim Richmond was the best driver he ever saw. Knew about the old Asheville/Weaverville track (once an airport). Said that a man named Sluder owned the track and disappeared one race night before the purse money was handed out; and that race winners would have beat him up if they had found him!
Told me not to miss Hickory Motor Speedway. Related the story about the concrete at Hickory under the public toilets giving way, and he and another guy had to jack it up so race attendees could relieve themselves. He knew the history of Orange Speedway in Hillsborough, North Carolina (topsoil given to the city; river nearby, etc.). Said that Bill France built the track and owned it. Said that Junior Johnson actually was in favor of closing North Wilkesboro, but I may have misunderstood him. Paul was a very interesting and thoughtful person. He made my day. Unfortunately, he doubts that the track will ever see another race – too much money needed. Said Bruton Smith and Bob Bahre purchased the track so they could move the race dates to New Hampshire and Texas.