For many years, NASCAR Cup Series drivers could count on a two week stint at home in the Charlotte area for the annual All Star race before running the longest race of the year with the Coke 600.
But over the past few years, NASCAR has been shaking things up by holding the All Star game at various tracks. On Thursday, September 8 NASCAR announced that the 2023 All Star race will be held at the iconic and recently renovated North Wilksboro Speedway.
The 2023 racing season marks 75 years of NASCAR and as a part of the celebration, they will be making a return to one of the original tracks.
NASCAR officials, members of Speedway Motorsports, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, and Hall of Fame driver and NBC broadcaster Dale Earnhardt Jr gathered in Raleigh, North Carolina at the North Carolina Museum of History to make the historic announcement. Festivities will feature a three day event from May 19-21 with a list of events coming at a later date.
Earnhardt who ran a Late Model race at North Wilksboro last month spoke on the track saying, “there’s something about it, it’s just got a special place in our history. And I’m so excited to see what can happen beyond this. The All-Star Race is a great thing, but going forward, but North Wilkesboro can continue to contribute to our lives and to our family’s lives.”
A historian of NASCAR and its tracks, Earnhardt was instrumental in the track’s renovation. He place third in the inaugural race after the renovation late last month with one of his own JR Motorsports cars bringing home the trophy.
At .625 miles, the oval at North Wilkesboro is just over a half mile. The first race – a Modified Division race – was held on 1948 with the first Cup Series race – then known as Strictly Stock – in 1949. In 1951, the track saw two Cup Series races each year until it closed in 1996.
And I’m so excited to see what can happen beyond this. The All-Star Race is a great thing, but going forward, but North Wilkesboro can continue to contribute to our lives and to our family’s lives.”
Thanks to some grassroots efforts from Earnhardt and an $18 million allocation of federal funds, Nort Wilkesboro has a new life. An additional $4 million grant is earmarked to further renovations including restrooms, concessions, safer barriers, permanent lighting, and scoring for the Cup Series All Star Race.
In 2019, Wilkesboro was cleaned in order for it to be scanned for an inclusion in the iRacing simulator. Earnhardt was one of those who helped to clean up the track.
After plans to turn the asphalt track to dirt were scrapped, Earnhardt noted, “North Wilkesboro is going to remain historic, and it will remain authentic, but it will also be modern, and that will be a great thing to see. “So I’m excited to see the progress, all the things that will be happening there over the next couple of months. The rebuilding and so forth is going to be a lot of fun to watch, and then to finally go there in May, just can’t get here fast enough.”
Returning to its history is not the only big change coming to NASCAR…
As a part of its NASCAR Experience pay service, NASCAR offers a limited number of in car cameras for the fans that includes numerous views.
Beginning this weekend at Kansas Speedway, fans can access the NASCAR Drive inside cockpit views for every one of the cars in the field…free of charge. Am ad supported offering will be available via the NASCAR mobile app; along with real time stats and information.
NASCAR senior vice president and chief digital officer Tim Clark spoke on the increased in-car camera viewing saying, “our goal is to deliver an immersive experience for the most passionate fans in all of sports, no matter where they are. We know the significant role second screens play in the overall viewing experience, so to provide live video from inside every car and alongside leaderboards, performance data, pit stats, live betting odds, and more is something we’re excited about.”
Fans will be able to see up to four live streams at one time.
NASCAR vice president of operations and technical production Steve Stum also spoke on the new video offering saying, “we’re fortunate to have tremendous people and partners who enable us to deliver this next-gen video experience to NASCAR fans all over the world. It’s no small feat to introduce something as ambitious as 40 live-streaming cameras inside these cars as they race side by side at speeds upward of 200 miles per hour.”
As a part of the Next Gen car’s design and construction is the ability to accommodate a standard camera mount.