Home » Suspected Moonshine Cave Found Under Grandstand At North Carolina Speedway

Suspected Moonshine Cave Found Under Grandstand At North Carolina Speedway

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The history of racing in America is deeply intertwined with bootlegging. For North Wilkesboro Speedway, though, the connection may be closer still. Recent investigation has revealed what may have been a secret moonshine cave under the track’s concrete grandstands.

“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,” said Steve Swift, the senior vice president of operations and development at Speedway Motorsports. Indeed, rumors of the track’s illicit history have circulated for decades, suggesting the speedway once played host to an illicit moonshine distillery. The new find under the grandstands provides significant supporting evidence to that theory, but it’s not 100% confirmed just yet.

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The find occurred when track staff were undergoing cleaning and inspection of the grandstands on the track’s front stretch. Cracks were identified in section N of the stand, with approximately 600 seats subsequently removed as crews inspected the structure. Further investigation revealed an area of approximately 700 square feet under the stands.

“We haven’t found 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,” said Swift. “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.”

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Fans of North Wilkesboro Speedway need not fear for the track. Speedway Motorsports staff are in the process of evaluating the grandstand for repair works. The clock is ticking ahead of the upcoming NASCAR All-Star Race Week, taking place at the track from May 14 to 19. “Now we have a race before the race,” said Swift. “The area that’s been affected by the sinkhole is a front stretch 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.”

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We’re yet to get a good look inside the cave revealed under the front stretch grandstand.

North Wilkesboro Speedway first opened in 1947. That’s long after the Prohibition era, but bootlegging wasn’t just limited to that period. Indeed, in the American South, moonshiners continued to operate illicit stills well into the 1940s. Drivers involved in the trade would modify their cars to better outrun the police on bootlegging runs, and competitions between these cars would eventually help spawn the series we know today as NASCAR. Thus, it’s easy to see how a vintage speedway track could have played host to  an illicit moonshine operation.

The Autopian has reached out to NWS for comment on whether any historical investigation is ongoing. It could be quite revealing to see what historical artifacts a dig on site could turn up.

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Today, the worlds of motorsport and alcohol are strictly split for good reason. In the past, though, it was an entirely different matter. The history of American motorsport has rich and storied roots, and it’s always interesting to learn more about the secrets lurking beneath the speedways of the American South.

Image credits: North Wilkesboro Speedway

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Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
20 days ago

I want to belieeeeeve

Ben
Ben
20 days ago

A moonshiner’s cave with no way in or out? Somebody thought the Cask of Amontillado was a how-to book.

MP81
MP81
20 days ago

Are we sure that’s not just a void under the concrete…like the one under my mom’s 100-year-old front porch/stairs that were falling apart?

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