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jclary
03-23-2015, 10:33 AM
While playing around with my computer, sipping my morning coffee, I stumbled upon a missive written about the North Wilksboro race track. It is a rather lengthy read, but captivating. Unless I missed something, there was NO STUDEBAKER content until I began reading the "comments" left by readers. That is when I came across the following....I only know of one '32 North Carolina based Studebaker, and don't recall who owns it. I used to see it frequently at the Tri-State fall meet, but don't remember if it has appeared recently. The entire story can be found at this link

http://www.sbnation.com/longform/2015/3/4/8126311/north-wilkesboro-speedway-after-nascar

Hope those, so inclined, will enjoy the entire link, but for the Studebaker content, read on. If the writer of the post below is one of us, thanks for your endearing tribute to your father.:)

Can't turn back time...

North Wilksboro is a pretty special track to me. I never saw a race there but passed the track 100’s of time going back & forth to Tenessee to see family over 40 yrs.
My father passed in Feb. last year (2014) & he was a long time NASCAR fan + he & his 2 brothers were a pretty successful driver/team on the southern dirt track circuit.
He was going to be laid to rest in east Tn. where all of our family was born. To lead the funeral procession at his burial, I hauled his 32 Studebaker there traveling down HWY 421 (which is they hwy you see in the back ground in the drown footage).
We had a gathering of friends & family service in Raleigh the night before having to travel to the burial. Being emotionally drained & bit mentally checked out, I was in no rush.
Having a full day to travel & driving solo, on a whim, I took a detour on Windy Gap road (NW Speedway exit). I had never been to the track nor taken that exit before but must have passed it hundreds of times in my life going back & forth to see family. I wanted to see how close I could get to the track & take some pictures with the Studebaker in front of what was possibly left of the track sign.
I ended up pulling up to the front gate & took some pic’s when I was greeted by an older gentleman walking from the house just down from the what was once the ticketing box office.
We chatted for a bit trading race stories/memories. He asked if I was going to a car show. I told him I wish that was the case but told him the reason why.
He introduced himself, Paul Wall, care taker & formerly the Dir of Operations of the track for over 50 yrs.
He then asked if I wanted to go inside. I couldn’t believe it, I was shocked, excited, over the moon but the best I could muster was a apathetic "sure".
We sat on the old modified folding seat bleachers in atop Turn 4. Even those bleachers had history & a story.
Little did I know they had been taken from the old NASCAR Raleigh Speedway (just off what’s now New Hope & Atlantic Ave where pieces off asphalt track can still be found) just a few mile from where my childhood home.
With Paul sharing stories of the NASCAR yesteryear, I was soaking it up like a sponge on a strangely beautiful sunny 65 degree Feb. day.
He then took me to the track storage area adjacent to the dilapidated box office.
It was opening a time capsule of the Petty’s, Earnhardt’s , Pearson, Parson era gone by. I could hear the distant engine rumble in my mind as I swam in a sea of NASCAR. Stories & pictures of "Little E" before he became known as simply "Jr".
He of course told me NASCAR wouldn’t be what it is with the lure of the original Junior, Junior Johnson, the North Wilkesboro native son.
Paul didn’t really talk so much Junior’s successes on the track as much as he did the legendary stories of "runnin’ liquor" & " them ridge runner boys".
He then did a magical thing as if this ethereal event couldn’t get any better… He offered to let me unload the Studebaker & let "dad turn some laps one last time".
It was getting dark & I still had to get across the twisting mountain roads towing the car.
I had to decline but he told me to swing by on the way back home as the offer still stood.
I headed out now knowing that I wasn’t driving solo that day. Dad was with me always & forever.
Pops was laid to rest the very next day, Eerily coincidentally as the same day as Daytona 500, 2014.
—Stay in the gas & turn left dad, you took the checkered.
To Mr Paul Wall, You didn’t know me from Adam but the time & stories you shared with me that day you will never know the depth of gratitude my family & I have for you. God bless.
I never did get to stop on the way back to take the car around the track. Just 72 hours after stopping at the track & having this experience where it was 65 & sunny, it was 32 degrees & snowing.
***********************************************
I’m just trying to find a way to tell him thank you-

by portabar (http://www.sbnation.com/users/portabar) on Mar 6, 2015 | 4:13 PM (http://www.sbnation.com/longform/2015/3/4/8126311/north-wilkesboro-speedway-after-nascar#292661064)P

BobPalma
03-23-2015, 10:54 AM
:) Thanks so much, John; that is a touching story. I started reading the long version through the link but realize I've got to get a couple other things done today first.

(I hope we find out who owned the '32.) :cool: BP

JRoberts
03-23-2015, 01:41 PM
Thanks for posting the link to this article about this great old track. The article you posted here is indeed heart warming.