Sinkhole Reveals Possible Legendary Moonshine Still Under North Carolina Speedway

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There May Be a Moonshine Cave Under a NASCAR TrackJared C. Tilton - Getty Images
  • A sinkhole at North Carolina’s North Wilkesboro Speedway revealed what could be the site of a secret moonshine cave still under the grandstands.

  • Located in the “moonshine capital of the world,” the legend of the moonshine still isn’t just a wild myth.

  • Of course, with no actual evidence of the still found just yet, maybe the myth lives on—with a bit more robust backstory.

When the North Wilkesboro Speedway (one of NASCAR’s original racetrack sites) hosts NASCAR All-Star Race Week in May, the operators may want to brew up some moonshine to serve at the concessions stand. It certainly would fall in line with a legend that has only grown at the North Carolina site.

Decades-long rumors have circulated faster than the cars around the.0625-mile short track that the site—now covered by the concrete grandstands—was actually a home to a moonshine still. A sinkhole just gave those rumors some non-wobbly legs to stand on.

During a grandstand cleaning and inspection ahead of the May NASCAR event, crews found cracks in the original concrete grandstand in section N. As the team removed seats and inspected the extent of the damage, an open area of about 700 square feet opened beneath the concrete structure.

“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,” Steve Swift, senior vice president of operations and development at Speedway Motorsports, said in a statement. “Well, 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.”

Keep in mind, the legend of the track isn’t far-fetched. As the NASCAR Hall of Fame states, during the first decade of NASCAR racing, the transportation of illegal liquor was huge business. In fact, the sport’s early stars often drove, owned, or built moonshine cars. Wilkes County, home of the North Wilkesboro Speedway, was a “hotbed of the moonshine industry.”

The speedway opened in 1947 as one of NASCAR’s original tracks, hosting the season finale for the inaugural Strictly Stock Series—now the Cup Series—in 1949. The track was prominent on the calendar until it closed in 1996. However, an extensive restoration that wrapped up in 2022 brought the speedway back onto the NASCAR Cup schedule in May of 2023.

But that renovation didn’t churn up the main concrete grandstand.

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

Crews have so far removed about 600 seats in two sections, and staff are evaluating steps for foundation repair and concrete replacement ahead of race week. “The area that’s been affected by the sinkhole is a front stretch grandstand area with some of the best views of the track,” Swift said. “We’ll have a lot of work to get done before NASCAR All-Star Race Week.”

Of course, in modern-day marketing, it might be best to outfit the 700-square-foot cave as a modern moonshine still, and give the space some luxury seating that tracks around the country could only envy.

When a sinkhole gives fresh rise to a legendary tale, you may as well start brewing.

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