Possible moonshine cave discovered under North Wilkesboro Speedway grandstand

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — It is no secret that some of NASCAR’s earliest stars also moonlighted as moonshiners. According to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, many of auto racing’s early stars drove, owned or built moonshine cars, with Wilkes County a hotbed for “white lightning.”

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And in the tradition of famous NASCAR bootleggers Junior Johnson, Wendell Scott, Tim Flock and Curtis Turner, crews unearthed what they believe is an old moonshine cave under the grandstand at North Wilkesboro Speedway, WSOC-TV reported.

During cleaning and inspection last week, cracks in the speedway’s original concrete grandstand led to the discovery of a sinkhole underneath a portion of the front stretch seating in section N toward Turn 1, North Wilkesboro Speedway officials said in a news release.

“When we began renovating and restoring North Wilkesboro Speedway in 2022, we’d often hear stories of how an old moonshine still was operated here on the property under the grandstands,” Steve Swift, senior vice president of operations and development at Speedway Motorsports, said in a statement. “Well, we haven’t found a still (yet), but we’ve found a small cave and an interior wall that would have been the perfect location to make illegal liquor and hide from the law. We don’t know how people would have gotten in and out, but as we uncover more, there’s no telling what we might find.”

North Wilkesboro Speedway held its first race on May 18, 1947, 10 months before NASCAR was formed. Fonty Flock won the modified feature race in front of approximately 10,000 fans, according to Speed Sport.

For his part, Johnson built a life-sized whiskey still that has graced the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Heritage Speedway since the building opened in 2010.

Johnson, who won 50 races during his NASCAR career, won four times at North Wilkesboro, including a pair of victories in 1965.

According to its website, North Wilkesboro Speedway became one of NASCAR’s original race tracks when it hosted the season finale for the inaugural Strictly Stock (now Cup) Series in 1949. The .0625-mile short track hosted NASCAR races until it closed in 1996.

The speedway was renovated and returned to the NASCAR Cup schedule on May 21, 2023.

The speedway is undergoing repairs to fix its foundation and replace the grandstand seats before NASCAR’s All-Star Race week beginning May 14, WSOC reported.

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