North Wilkesboro [N.C.] Speedway, a cornerstone in stock car racing's foundation and a track that occupies a special place in grassroots racing fans' hearts, will reopen next year with a coveted date in the USARacing Pro Cup Championship Series, it was announced Saturday during the drivers meeting prior to the series season finale Strutmasters.com 250 at South Boston Speedway.
Scheduled for Oct. 3, 2010, the race will be on the traditional fall weekend that for many years hosted NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series from NASCAR's inception in 1949 until the track closed after its fall race in 1996. Its two Cup dates were then moved to New Hampshire and Texas. But with the dawn of the 2010 racing season, the 0.625-mile track will again assume its rightful place in the stock car racing community.
“We are extremely pleased to be the first national touring racing series to return to the true roots of stock car racing,” USARacing Managing Partner Larry Camp said. “We know the people of Wilkes County and the surrounding area of North Carolina have missed stock car racing on this storied track.
“All of us at the USARacing Pro Cup Series are proud to be a part of this rebirth. Personally, I know the Staley family, Junior Johnson and the many stock car racing purists will mark Oct. 3, 2010, as a red letter day in the sport. I know Benny Parsons would be extremely proud of (his wife) Terri for helping return stock car racing to the county that he and his family so dearly loved.”
In addition to Mrs. Parsons, the new ownership group consists of Alton McBride Sr., Alton McBride Jr., Dave Ehret, John Burwell and Bosco Lowe.
With the addition of North Wilkesboro Speedway, the USAR Pro Cup Series schedule contains five tracks that played key roles in NASCAR's first 50 years. The series travels to Hickory [N.C.] Motor Speedway on May 1, Rockingham [N.C.] Speedway on May 15, South Boston Speedway on June 12 and for the season finale on Nov. 6, and Bristol [Tenn.] Motor Speedway on Sept. 11. Gresham Motorsports Park, site of the USAR Pro Cup Series season opener on March 27 and a Championship Series race on Oct. 23, is on the site of the old Peach State Speedway in Jefferson, Ga., which hosted NASCAR Cup races in the late 1960s.
“We are very excited to add the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway to the 2010 USARacing Pro Cup Series schedule as this completes our 2010 schedule and adds another high profile venue to our already impressive list of quality and historic tracks,” Vice President and Series Director Jimmy Wilson said. “In addition to North Wilkesboro, we have solidified our date with Hickory Motor Speedway, moving it earlier in the season compared to years past. This is truly a schedule everyone can get excited over.”
The USAR Pro Cup Series 2010 schedule has the nation's premier short-track circuit visiting a dozen venues in eight states. The series' return to Bristol Motor Speedway, the reopening of North Wilkesboro Speedway, and a companion race with NASCAR's Nationwide Series at Iowa Speedway on July 30 highlight the 16-race schedule that boasts a five-event Championship Series.
Joining Gresham Motorsports Park, Bristol Motor Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway as added venues for the 2010 season are New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., on April 17; Lake Erie Speedway in Erie, Pa., on June 26; and Salem Speedway in Salem, Ind., on July 10.
The USARacing Pro Cup Series, formerly Hooters Pro Cup, is owned by Interstate Investment Group and is based in Concord, N.C. IIG is comprised of Jack McNelly, Gary Kale, Carl Hubbard, Chip Lofton and Larry Camp, who serves as the managing partner. For more information on the USARacing Pro Cup Series, go to www.usarprocup.com.