North Wilkesboro Speedway Takes A Shine To Night Racing

When Speedway Associates Inc. and PASS officials announced the richest-ever Super Late Model race in the United States would be a night event at Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway there were naysayers who said it couldn’t be done. They were wrong.

On Saturday, the 300-lap green flag event known simply as “The Race” will crown its winner under the lights for the first time since the track opened in 1947. Thirty-five generator set light towers, similar to those that provide light for road crews working at night, will allow fans to enjoy the fifth-eighths mile speedway’s intense action in true Saturday night short-track fashion as 45 drivers battle for the $75,000 first place prize.

“I knew it could be done because my dad raced under generator set lights in the ’70s,” said Alton McBride Jr., who noted the speedway contracted with the Winston-Salem, N.C., branch of United Rentals and Hertz Rentals for the lights. “Tom (Mayberry, PASS owner and president) and I have both raced at some short tracks where we had only half of the candle light power that has been brought to HNWS. I guess you could say the lighting of this legendary track occurred because two warped minds – mine and Tom’s – got together with a wild idea and then sold it to Speedway Associates company team members and it became a reality.”

McBride said there were people who drove by the speedway on Highway 421 Tuesday night, saw the lights and came by the track to purchase tickets Wednesday because they didn’t want to miss “the historic moment.”

“None of this would be possible without PASS and we are proud to be associated with such a class organization,” McBride said.

Daytona 500 winners Geoff Bodine and Sterling Marlin are among the nearly 100 drivers who have entered the event, which will receive the green flag at 6 p.m. Saturday. Practice for the PASS Super Late Models and tour-type Modifieds will be Thursday from 4-8 p.m.. On Friday, practice begins at noon with PASS qualifying for the top-15 positions starting at 5 p.m. Modified time trials are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Twenty-lap PASS Super Late Model qualifying heats are slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, practice starts at noon with the two 40-lap Last Chance races set for 2 p.m. The 100-lap Modified race begins at 3:30 p.m.

North Wilkesboro Speedway PR