Auto racing in America has a lot of Halls of Fames and museums, along with abandoned tracks. A lot of them are in North and South Carolina. Charlotte has the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Welcome, North Carolina has the Richard Childress Racing Museum. Mooresville has the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame. All of them are great places for racing fans to visit. Darlington, South Carolina has the Stock Car Museum and NMPA Hall of Fame. What North Carolina needs though, is a race track North Carolina Racing Museum.
North Carolina, along with having a lot of museums for stock car racing, also has a lot of race tracks. NASCAR’s heritage comes out of the North Carolina race tracks. However, a lot of race tracks are sitting abandoned in the weeds for Mother Nature to take over. Abandoned race tracks are an unfortunate part of racing history. As a historian it pains to see stuff abandoned. You never want to see the ghosts of racetracks. North Carolina is far from the only state with them. That said, someone needs to do something.
At the same time, people wish for every chance to see cars racing at North Wilkesboro and Rockingham Speedways. The reality is that both speedways are probably done hosting professional stock car racing. It hurts, but it does happen. North Wilkesboro has roofs collapsing throughout the facility. Rockingham has trees developing in the infield. The sad state of North Carolina racing history has a chance to be changed. The solution is present in one of the 1948 season tracks.
Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsborough, North Carolina sits in the weeds off U.S. Route 70 Business. It is a lonely place in overgrowth, accessed by a few trails that circle the race track. Take off the markings on Google Maps and you can see the remnants of a racetrack. The circular design is there. However, in that area, there are remains of the grand stand, the flag stand, etc. for fans to take in. There are markings to what was once what. Now, people can learn about Occoneechee Speedway. We need more of that.
Occoneechee Speedway is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its legacy is preserved for all eternity as an abandoned dirt track. Rockingham and North Wilkesboro do not have that legacy. It would be imperative that North Wilkesboro get this designation soon before anyone tries to raze the facility. It will be help open money. People can learn about the racing at North Wilkesboro and Rockingham to help educate young people. Many people are going to forget what racing at North Wilkesboro and Rockingham were like. This helps enormously.
The NASCAR community helps educate through the NASCAR Hall of Fame. However, there are opportunities to extend this to racetracks through the area. People can learn something about Rockingham and North Wilkesboro. People already learn at Occoneechee. If we can develop portable boards and put historic cars on the property, we can help raise money to get people to learn, rather than let abandoned tracks sit abandoned.
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