Ford Authority

NASCAR Ford Driver Zane Smith Pleased With North Wilkesboro

North Wilkesboro Speedway has been largely abandoned since 1996, but NASCAR will make its return to the .625-mile oval track for the All-Star Race in 2023. Testing sessions on the speedway’s surface are well underway, and three Truck Series drivers were the most recent to take to the track, including defending champion Zane Smith, driver of the No. 38 NASCAR Ford F-150, and Smith said he was optimistic about the resurrected racetrack, according to a report from NASCAR.

The test took place on Monday, March 20th, 2023, and marked Smith’s first time at the historic oval. He said he was blown away by its configuration.

“Right when I pulled into the infield and really looked at the grandstands, I’m like, ‘Man, we’re on a hill,” Smith said, referencing the unique incline of the racing surface that is slightly downhill on the backstretch and uphill on the front. So you go pretty much up the hill into [Turn 3] and down a hill into [Turn 1] so you don’t really notice it when you’re out there, but it’s kind of weird to look at. It’s just a place like none other.”

Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barriers have been erected at the racetrack in preparation for the return of NASCAR’s top series, and light towers have been installed to provide illumination for night racing. While the catch fence has yet to be installed, North Wilkesboro is well on its way to the modern era of racing, something that Smith said he is very excited about being a part of.

“Obviously you hear about it from everyone in the shop that’s been working in this sport forever, and past drivers, just legends of our sport,” he said. “This is the place that you always hear about. Then really the past few years, you see pictures of it kind of coming to life and then the rumors that man, this place might come back. I think every racer loves a short track, so we were excited about it, and it was so cool to see really Dale [Earnhardt] Jr. and others kind of attack this place and make it a reality again.”

Subscribe to Ford Authority for more Ford racing newsNASCAR newsFord F-150 news and 24/7 Ford news coverage.

Alexandra is a Colorado-based journalist with a passion for all things involving horsepower, be it automotive or equestrian.

Subscribe to Ford Authority

For around-the-clock Ford news coverage

We'll send you one email per day with the latest Ford updates. It's totally free.


  1. Samurai

    To think we would return to a Speedway that got removed because of Texas, what a sight!! The last time a Cup Race was there(1996), I wasn’t even born, Jeff Gordon won the last race, and Dale Earnhardt was still alive. It had been on the schedule since NASCAR’s inception, and to see it was removed was pretty much sacrilege for every NASCAR fan. I can’t wait to see the fun racing here!!!


Leave a comment