North Wilkesboro
Image from North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Foundation repairs begin on frontstretch grandstands above possible moonshine cave

Following a thorough examination of the foundation around the all-concrete grandstands near Turn 1 to ensure it meets safety requirements, North Wilkesboro Speedway track officials said construction crews have begun to repair the mysterious cavern found underneath the structure so it will be ready to host fans for the upcoming NASCAR All-Star Race week, May 14-19.

This afternoon, construction crews from Baker’s Construction Services began the process of pouring concrete into the large cavern, rumored to be an abandoned moonshine cave. The open area was discovered underneath the frontstretch grandstands toward Turn 1 nearly two weeks ago and is estimated to be approximately 700-square-feet.

More than 600 aluminum seats were removed and a large chunk of the concrete seating was opened so construction crews could safely get inside and lay in the concrete fill to make repairs and stabilize the area.

Speedway Motorsports Senior Vice President of Operations and Development of Steve Swift says that the seats were found to be safe and the cavern is not in a collapsible area, as there are plenty of big rocks and dirt underneath providing a solid ground foundation.

“Once our operations guys found the initial hole we knocked it open to find there was an even bigger hole, approximately 700 square-feet, a huge cavity,” Swift said. “You could park a Chevrolet pickup truck in the hole, and it was right under the Turn 1 grandstands.”

Swift said his team is faced with a ‘race to make it to the big race’ with this challenge to get the grandstand sections (N and O) repaired before the zMAX CARS Tour takes the track and fans start to fill the grandstands to enjoy some stock car racing on May 14.

“We had to make sure we could get this repaired,” Swift said. “We didn’t find any sinkholes where the bottom falls out when we tested for that. We knew at that point we would need to use concrete as the best option to fill it back in. A lot of concrete will go in there, approximately 42 yards each day. We want to restore the seats and concrete the way that it was in the original form, and that’s very important to Marcus (Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports), to keep that look and feel just like it was in the 1990s.”

Swift also said he and a team of engineers that analyzed and evaluated the area are still uncertain about the origins of the cavern. The initial story last week created quite a buzz nationally when Swift speculated that it could be an abandoned cave or tunnel used years ago for moonshining.

“It’s hard to say if the folklore and old stories that you constantly hear around here are true, but we are in the heart of what was once moonshining country, so who knows?”

“We didn’t want to dig too deep into the cave, we unfortunately didn’t have time to be an archeologist,” Swift continued. “There’s things under there you would see that makes no sense why they are there. We saw some things that were kind of weird, columns and an interior wall and it made us think of some of the stories we have heard in the past, there could be something to this hole. It’s still plausible, and maybe Myth Busters can come out and investigate it one day.”

Single-day tickets go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. ET for the prestigious NASCAR race weekend that showcases the best drivers in the sport on the venerable half-mile racetrack located in Wilkes County, North Carolina. North Wilkesboro Speedway is the fifth track to host the prestigious race, along with Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.

After opening in 1947, 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. Following an extensive restoration, North Wilkesboro Speedway returned to the NASCAR Cup schedule on May 21, 2023, hosting the NASCAR All-Star Race.

— North Wilkesboro Speedway