North Wilkesboro locals ready for NASCAR’s long-awaited return

After 26 years of wondering if NASCAR would ever return, North Wilkesboro Speedway is finally hosting the All-Star race this week.

Some people thought the speedway would be closed forever, but it received $18 million in allocation money from the American Rescue Plan funds to get a facelift.

Channel 9′s Jonathan Lowe heard from locals about how they are gearing up for an expected 100,000 people to visit the town this week. The revival of the speedway is inspiring all sorts of nostalgia for a quaint town that hasn’t seen a NASCAR race since 1997.

Amber Torrance remembers going to the track as a young girl with her father after he returned a lost wallet.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Renovations ahead of schedule at North Wilkesboro Speedway for NASCAR All-Star Race

“Story behind that, he had found a wallet, and returned the wallet to the man, and the man gave him tickets for him to go to that race,” Torrance said.

Torrance lives next to the track and has seen every step of the renovation. She is preparing for people to park and camp around her yard.

“I like for it to look nice cause we’re going to have people camping here,” Torrance said. “We’ve got 22 spots, and so we’re full, and that’s for the whole week. ”

Michael Parsons, a jewelry store owner in Wilkesboro for more than 37 years and town commissioner, is ready for the big crowd.

“If you include the entire week of All Star, that could be in excess of 100,000,” Parsons said.

Wilkes County has been making its own improvements to get ready for the race.

The towns of Wilkes County are doing things of their own to get ready for All-Star Week. North Wilkesboro officials plan to spend about $85,000 on beautification projects, but those are projects they hope will have an impact that lasts well past the All-Star race.”

RELATED: How Speedway Motorsports brought NASCAR back to North Wilkesboro

“Of course, as a business owner, I’m excited about exposure, getting our town’s exposure, and this has national exposure like we could never purchase,” Parsons said.

Torrence hopes NASCAR keeps coming back.

“We’re hoping it comes back; everybody’s thinking this is a one time thing, and we’re hoping it’s going to come back, you know, NASCAR stays here,” Torrence said.

There will be activities happening across Wilkes County to celebrate the week, such as a fan fest, a hauler parade, meet and greets, and concerts. Thursday’s fan fest starts at 4 p.m. and is free. Click here for more information.

(WATCH BELOW: Renovations ahead of schedule at North Wilkesboro Speedway ahead of NASCAR All-Star Race)