CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — North Carolina is the birthplace of NASCAR. With a new year comes a renewed push by state leaders to expand its motorsports heritage. The new Moonshine & Motorsports Trail plans to take visitors to more than half a dozen stops across the state.
The immediate Charlotte area has two locations that are part of the trail, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Motor Speedway. 6 other locations spread across the state include old racetracks and state parks.
NASCAR first started racing on the beaches of Daytona, Florida, but the Queen City holds the distinction of holding the first NASCAR Cup Series race in 1949. The race was held at the old Charlotte Speedway near where the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport sits now.
It’s only fitting that as NASCAR is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this season that North Carolina leaders are waving the green flag on the first Moonshine and Motorsports Trail.
“There were 21 tracks in North Carolina that hosted Cup events,” said NASCAR Historian, Ken Martin.
Right now there are eight stops across the state, but room for a lot more. The current stops include Stone Mountain State Park, North Wilkesboro Speedway, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Rockingham Speedway, Buffalo Lake, the North Carolina Museum of History and Historic Occoneechee Speedway.
NASCAR historian Ken Martin has always dreamed of a historic trail. He even hinted at on during a 2021 interview with Queen City News.
“It would be great to setup some statewide tour where you can go and visit those locations,” said Martin.
The 2021 state budget helped make dreams become reality. The Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) is developing the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail in hopes of increased economic development and activity across the state.
Many of the stops along the trail are former tracks that NASCAR and motorsports fans from across the country still talk about.
“In this area we had Rockingham, we had North Wilkesboro, we had Hickory that all hosted a lot of Cup events, but it was like the sport outgrew them,” said Martin.
The sport may have outgrown the tracks, but they are not forgotten. When Bill France Sr. signed the papers to form NASCAR in 1948, North Wilkesboro Speedway was an original track on the schedule.
Today the historic facility is getting ready to reopen to NASCAR racing, while also being added to the statewide historic trail.
Leaders at the DNCR have created a promotional video and website to support the new historic trail. You can visit the website here.
State leaders say the trail is still in the beginning, planning stage.
This is the first in a series of stories about the trail. Queen City News plans to visit Historic Occoneechee Speedway later this month to show how the old track has been turned into a public park and walking trail.