NASCAR: North Wilkesboro and Other Forgotten Tracks of the Sport

James D'ElettoContributor IIIFebruary 1, 2012

NASCAR: North Wilkesboro and Other Forgotten Tracks of the Sport

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    NASCAR's top series has raced at many different racetracks countrywide. There are currently 24 different tracks that are active on the Sprint Cup schedule.

    The top NASCAR series formed in 1949, and has run races at 168 different tracks. Many of these tracks have been leveled and housing developments are in their places, but these tracks should not be forgotten. Some of these tracks played an integral part in what made the sport of auto racing what it is today.

    Lets take a look back at some of these tracks and why they are so infamous in the NASCAR history books. 

Rockingham Speedway

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    Formerly known as North Carolina Speedway, Rockingham Speedway held two races per year for 38 years and amassed a total of 78 races for NASCAR's top series from 1965-2004, which is second most for a track that is no longer active.

    Once the track was sold to International Speedway Corporation, its downfall was imminent.

    The track first saw its fall date go to Auto Club Speedway and then the following year saw its spring race move to Texas Motor Speedway.

    The track still stands today and hosts lower level series races.

Nashville Motor Speedway

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    The Nashville Motor Speedway hosted NASCAR's top series from 1958-1984, amassing a total of 42 races in that time period.

    This track was truly dominated by three drivers: Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough. Between the three they were responsible for over half of the track's wins, tallying 24 victories.

    The track's demise occurred when disputes with city government and track management forced NASCAR to pull its top series race in 1984.

    The track later renamed "The Music City Motorplex" still stands today and hosts races, but developers are baring down and are trying to close the track.

North Wilkesboro Speedway

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    North Wilkesboro Speedway was also one of NASCAR's original eight race tracks.

    The .625 mile speedway lacked all of the modern amenities and was gobbled up as one of the acquisitions made by Speedway Motorsports Inc. in 1996. This allowed SMI to move the two race dates held at North Wilkesboro to Texas Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

    In the time the famous track was opened it amassed 93 total races for NASCAR's top series. As of today, the Speedway still stands but multiple attempts at restoring racing to the asphalt have failed.

Riverside International Raceway

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    Riverside International Raceway was a 2.62 mile road course in California's Moreno Valley. This famous track played host to NASCAR's top series from 1958-1988.

    The track opened the Cup series season from 1970-1981 until they moved the Daytona 500 to that spot on the schedule in 1982. Riverside is also a track that held the final race of the season from 1982-1986.

    A few of the prominent drivers were very successful at the track—Bobby Allison has the most wins in Moreno Valley; he won six times with three other drivers winning five times (Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Dan Gurney).

    Alas, the ground where the raceway once sat is now home to houses and a shopping mall.

Occoneechee Speedway

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    The Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsborough, North Carolina is also one of NASCAR's original eight racetracks. The one-mile speedway was home of the third race in the "Strickly Stock Series" in 1949.

    The track hosted NASCAR events up until 1968, when Bill France Sr. had to give up on the track due to a local uprising against the speedway. He then bought land outside Birmingham, Alabama where he built the Talladega Superspeedway.

    Currently the track has been taken over by a wooded area, but you can still find the old concrete grandstands still standing on the historic speedway trail.

Daytona Beach and Road Course

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    The Daytona Beach and road course was the start of NASCAR racing.

    Even though it was only host to the second official race in the history of the sport, racing began at the track before NASCAR was officially formed.

    The track started to host events in 1937, and events were continued by Bill France up until he formed NASCAR in 1948.

    Due to increasing crowds from hotels that were being built in the area, it was hard to really control the crowds and tickets. France decided he needed to build a paved superspeedway to house the people and the event.

    Racing on the beach continued until the Daytona International Speedway was built in 1959. 

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