Collaborative Effort to Resurrect North Wilkesboro Speedway Win 2023 Overall NMPA Pocono Spirit Award

January 22, 2024
#5: Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro. Photo by NKP.

CONCORD, N.C. – The group responsible for bringing North Wilkesboro Speedway back to its glory was announced Sunday as the overall winners of National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Pocono Spirit Award for 2023.

The group that includes Dale Earnhardt Jr., Terri Parsons, Marcus Smith and Steven Wilson, was honored during the NMPA awards luncheon at the Great Wolf Lodge.

Earnhardt used his podcast, the Dale Jr. Download, to press Smith on the issue. He also organized a cleanup day at the racetrack on a cold and rainy day in 2019 so iRacing could scan the track for its platform. 

Parsons worked behind the scenes for many years pushing for North Wilkesboro Speedway to return. Parson wasn’t afraid to get in Smith’s ear about wanting to see the track open again while also working with local officials in those efforts and rallying the community. 

The president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Smith, told Earnhardt on his podcast that he heard the outcry and hadn’t forgotten about the racetrack. It brought a new wave of optimism and a push to make it happen. Smith was among those who made the decision to move the All-Star Race, held at a Speedway Motorsports track, to North Wilkesboro. 

Wilson is a co-founder of Save the Speedway, an organization focused on getting North Wilkesboro Speedway reopened. It formed in 2005 and was persistent in its efforts to keep the history of the racetrack alive with the hope of seeing racing there again, and then offered assistance in making that happen. 

Other quarterly winners were Xfinity Series driver Ryan Vargas, the Knoxville Raceway Safety team along with Gio Scelzi, Spencer Bayston, and Brad Sweet, and former racing executive Don Miller

Established in 1992 and supported by Pocono Raceway, the Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motor sports. It is also meant to acknowledge competitors who have overcome illness, injury, or tragedy to return to racing.

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