Sinkhole At North Wilkesboro Speedway Reveals Rumored Moonshine Cave Under Front Stretch Grandstands

NASCAR culture
North Wilkesboro Speedway

The most Wilkes county think I’ve ever seen in my life.

And I can’t believe it’s true… you always hear rumors like this, but usually, it’s nothing more than hearsay that’s been passed down a few generations by local guys who sit around and drink beer together on Friday nights, and should be taken with a massive grain of salt.

I mean, it makes sense how something like that could get started, as NASCAR and moonshine are directly intertwined and the running of illegal liquor during prohibition is how the sport got started in the first place. You can read more about that HERE.

But in this rare, and pretty unbelievable case, it appears the long-told rumors that a moonshine cave underneath the front stretch of the grandstands of North Wilkesboro Speedway exists are very much true. For decades, locals have said that the site of a secret moonshine still exists under the speedway grounds, but obviously, it was never proven.

During grandstand cleaning and inspection last week, though, staff found cracks in the original concrete in section N, and began removing seats to see what was going on. And in that process, they discovered an open area of “approximately 700-square-feet” underneath that appears to be part of that cave.

Steve Swift, senior vice president of operations and development at Speedway Motorsports, says that they haven’t located a still itself yet, but they did find a small cave and interior wall that would’ve ” been the perfect location to not only make illegal liquor, but to hide from the law as well”:

“When we began renovating and restoring North Wilkesboro Speedway in 2022, we’d often hear stories of how an old moonshine still was operated here on the property under the grandstands.

Well, we haven’t found find a still (yet), but we’ve found a small cave and an interior wall that would have been the perfect location to not only make illegal liquor, but to hide from the law as well.

We don’t know how people would have gotten in and out, but as we uncover more, there’s no telling what we might find.”

Here’s a couple photos of what they’ve found thus far (I know, it doesn’t look like much but still… it’s pretty cool if it’s true. I’m kind of waiting for them to say it’s some kind of April Fool’s joke):

NWS says they’ve removed approximately 600 seats from sections N and O so far, and they’re still evaluating the area for repairs ahead NASCAR All-Star Race in May:

“Now we have a race before the race.

The area that’s been affected by the sinkhole is a frontstretch grandstand area with some of the best views of the track. We’ll have a lot of work to get done before NASCAR All-Star Race Week.”

Of course, the original NASCAR track hosted the first Cup Series race there in 27 years during 2023’s All-Star Race weekend, and Kyle Larson was the big million-dollar winner, taking home a very fitting (even more so now) moonshine still trophy:

Stay tuned, because I have a feeling there’s a lot more (100 proof clear liquor, hopefully) to come with this story…

The History Of Moonshine And North Wilkesboro Speedway

The track first opened in 1947 as a dirt track in rural Wilkes county, at the inception of the sport, and was later paved in 1958 and ran some of the biggest races in NASCAR up until the last Winston Cup Series race in 1996.

NASCAR clearly had humble beginnings in Wilkes and the surrounding counties, as it was then-known as the Moonshine Capital of America (and it probably still is, not gonna lie). In the prohibition era, people would run moonshine up and down the mountains, which often meant having to outrun the law so they could sell their illegal liquor.

Over time, they learned how to soup their cars up and make them run as fast as possible so they wouldn’t get caught, and eventually, the sport we know as NASCAR today was born.

The sport was not only a huge source of entertainment for people from all over the country who traveled to watch races there, but it also brought a lot to the economy in a town that, like so many small towns across the country, has seen a lot of its big industries leave.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has also played a massive role in getting everything reopen, and he put out a fantastic series on his Youtube page called Roots & Revival series, which focuses on all of the history of the track, that I’d highly recommended watching for some more insight.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock