North Wilkesboro Speedway, a former NASCAR track that has been closed since 1996, is set to make a comeback in 2023 thanks to the efforts of iRacing and NASCAR. The track was originally closed due to disrepair and was in danger of being lost forever. However, in late 2019, an effort was made to clean the track enough for it to be preserved virtually by iRacing. With the help of NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr and other members of the community, the track was cleaned up and scanned by iRacing’s laser scanners.
While the track was being polished virtually, the world was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic and NASCAR drivers became professional esports racers with the eNASCAR Pro Invitational. This led to the virtual recreation of North Wilkesboro being featured as the finale of the Pro Invitational series in May 2020, with Denny Hamlin taking the virtual victory.
The success of the virtual event and the popularity of iRacing during the pandemic led NASCAR to consider bringing the track back for real. After negotiations with the town of North Wilkesboro and the owners of the track, it was announced that the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will both be held at the track in 2023.
In addition to the efforts of iRacing and NASCAR, the return of North Wilkesboro has also been made possible by the support of the town of North Wilkesboro and the owners of the track. The town has been involved in negotiations to bring the track back and has expressed excitement at the prospect of hosting major NASCAR events once again.
The return of North Wilkesboro is not only a triumph for the track and the town, but it also represents a victory for fans of the sport. The track has a rich history and has hosted some of the most memorable moments in NASCAR history. Its return to the circuit will allow fans to experience that history once again and to create new memories at the track.
The comeback of North Wilkesboro is a testament to the resilience and determination of the racing community. It also serves as a reminder of the power of technology and how it can be used to preserve and revitalize historic venues. As sim racing continues to grow in popularity and become more integrated with the real racing world, it will be interesting to see what other impact it has on the industry. The return of North Wilkesboro is a prime example of the potential for sim racing to not only entertain, but also to preserve and revitalize the world of motorsports.