They Might Have Found a Moonshine Cave Underneath North Wilkesboro Speedway

Local rumors may have finally been confirmed.
North Wilkesboro Speedway

A 700-square-foot sinkhole recently opened underneath the grandstands at one of NASCAR’s most famous venues: North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina. During a routine cleaning and inspection of the said grandstands, workers found cracks in the original concrete, which prompted the removal of several seats. That’s when they not only discovered the massive sinkhole but also what appears to be a moonshine cave. If true, this would confirm the decades-long suspicions of area locals.

NASCAR’s roots involve moonshine runners during Prohibition, as they needed to modify their cars to outrun Johnny Law, and they inevitably began racing them (and I’m going to pretend I learned that from reading about history instead of watching Talladega Nights). Due to its smuggling roots, North Carolinians have long believed that a long-defunct, top-secret moonshine facility lay buried beneath North Wilkesboro Speedway. And now that a massive cave was found under the grandstands, you can imagine the excitement of locals whose suspicions seem to have been confirmed.

“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, senior VP of operations at Speedway Motorsports. “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. 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.”

You might be wondering why there would have been a secret moonshine cave underneath a racetrack built in 1947, long after Prohibition ended. Well, illegal moonshine running was still common after Prohibition was repealed in 1933, especially throughout Appalachia and the North Carolina foothills, home to the North Wilkesboro Speedway. Moonshiners wanted to avoid heavy alcohol taxes and many dry counties.

If this sinkhole did indeed unearth a mythical moonshine distillery, it’s unclear how long it was operational and when it finally shut down. Workers have removed over 600 seats and are still figuring out exactly what’s below the grandstands and how to repair them. There’s a race against the clock to get it repaired, though, since the Speedway is set to host NASCAR’s All-Star Race Week, from May 14-19. It would be fascinating if workers find some old moonshine stills, or any leftovers from its moonshining days before the foundation is repaired and the cave is closed for good. Maybe it could be turned into some sort of museum for spectators to visit while at the Speedway.

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