NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – The North Wilkesboro Speedway was built in the 1940s.

For nearly 50 years, it attracted NASCAR fans to surrounding towns, which boosted the local economy.

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Builders were at the speedway Thursday planning its comeback.

“I started seeing these signs and these pictures around town, and down on the bottom right-hand corner, someone has printed, ‘we want you back,'” said Jeff Swofford, Co-owner of Brushy Mountain Smokehouse and Creamery.

While the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway never left, it sat aging, mostly vacant for nearly 26 years.

“You know, it was just decaying over time,” said Tammy Johnson, Owner of Key City Antiques.

Like the antiques in her shop, the speedway has been given a new life.

Less than two weeks ago, the businesses of North Wilkesboro got a taste of the impact races can have on the community.

“It’s just amazing at the people, so many people there, and we get far more traffic from outside of the county than we do in the county just from the perspective of a customer,” Johnson said.

Next year, NASCAR is returning to Wilkes County.

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race should sell out quickly with fans from across the globe.

“What does NASCAR mean for this community?” Queen City News asked the Swofford.

“Oh, Wilkes County loves NASCAR; it’s a huge sport, and it has been missed dearly over the years,” he said.

Smith and other business owners expect millions to be spent in local shops, restaurants, and hotels.

“The people coming in, they are going to be looking for places to stay, places to eat, places to drink, and we hit all of those spots here, so that is going to be exciting,” CEO of Copper Barrel Distillery George Smith said.

“I need to get a new sign right that says, ‘we got you back’ instead of ‘we want you back,'” Smith said.