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COMMENTARY


This and other photos from the collection of Yadkinville, N.C.’s Donald Johnson show a relatively new North Wilkesboro Speedway. Not much is known about the circumstances behind the shots, other than the track is North Wilkesboro and Johnson snapped them. Who won the race? What year might it be? The track was paved in 1958, and these photos appear to have been taken well before that. Anybody have any ideas?

A Brand-New North Wilkesboro Speedway?
By Rick Houston

Junior Johnson couldn’t place the photos, and if there’s something about North Wilkesboro Speedway that Junior doesn’t know, it’s going to be tough to discover. Very tough.

Several months ago, Yadkinville, N.C. resident Donald Johnson was going through some photos when he came across several that he took at a long ago race. The track was North Wilkesboro, of that he was sure. Other than that, Johnson knows relatively few of the details.

Who are the drivers in his photos? What year might the photographs have been taken? Who won the race? His best guess is that they were snapped in about 1950, just three years after the facility hosted its first race. The track was paved in 1958, and the cars in Johnson’s photos are most definitely on dirt.

Indeed, the photos do appear to have been taken in the late 1940s or early 50s. Junior Johnson didn’t recognize any of the drivers, but did point out features such as a house behind the backstretch.

Might there be anyone out there who could help? If so, please contact Stock Car History Online Editor Rick Houston at rick.houston@stockcarhistoryonline.com.

The most striking feature of this shot is that it seems to dispel several myths concerning NASCAR’s early years. First, most of the people in the stands appear to be relatively well dressed. They’re not all dressed like backwoods, hillbilly moonshiners, although it’s pretty good bet there were a few there that day. Secondly, there are several women in the stands. Female race fans aren’t the result of some recent NASCAR marketing strategy. They’ve been there since the beginning.

Cars are on the track, and a haze of dust is clearly evident.

Big trouble on the frontstretch. From the lack of people in the stands, it would seem that the accident might have taken place during practice, qualifying or late in the race itself.

No pit road. No garage. But a full house nevertheless.

Who are the drivers waging this side-by-side battle? Also, the uphill grade of the backstretch is clearly evident in this photograph.

Another shot of the No. 00.

We saved perhaps the best for last. The track is packed with cars raising all kinds of dust. The stands are jammed with fans, and so are the hills outside turns one and two.

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