A portion of the newly signed North Carolina budget funds one of the state's beloved traditions: NASCAR. More than $40 million is allocated for racetrack renovations, and one big winner is the birthplace of stock car racing: Wilkes County.
Eighteen million dollars in federal money will go toward supporting the North Wilkesboro Speedway which has remained mostly idle since its closure in 1996. Racing generates millions of dollars, and the goal, according to Governor Cooper is to bring it back along with the many jobs the sport generates. Wilkes County Board of Commissioners Chairman Eddie Settle says this has been years in the making, and the funds are already earmarked for much-needed water and sewer infrastructure at the track and surrounding area. But he says this goes far beyond dollars and cents.
"My goodness, the pride factor for our county," says Settle. "NASCAR started in Wilkes County in the Smitty Hotel. Bill France met with Enoch Staley and they drew up the first nine races of NASCAR in 1943, and they raced the first race in Daytona and the ninth race was in Wilkesboro on dirt."
Settle says with the growth of Wilkes Community College, and other local initiatives, the county has turned the corner. He calls the prospect of Wilkesboro Speedway reopening icing on the cake.