The North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina was home to top NASCAR races from when it opened in 1949 through when it closed in 1996. It reopened briefly in 2010 but was shuttered again in 2011. Since then, it has been lying dormant as investors and businesses sort out the fate of the historic racetrack.
Photographer Seph Lawless recently paid the track a visit, capturing what the location currently looks like years after it was bustling with racing fans and speeding cars.
“This was America. Gone were the sounds of the car engines roaring. The squealing of the race car tires as they hugged every curve of the track. Gone was the smell of burning rubber and fuel,” Lawless tells us. “All that’s left now is skid marks and the broken memories of a NASCAR champion.”
“As I walk the race track it’s eerily silent. This track once grew champions…now it only grows weeds and dead grass. I approach the thick white finish line. I look up to a endless sea of abandoned seats. It’s faceless and emotionless. I became numb. I couldn’t tell if I had just finished my final lap or I was just beginning this race. Certain parts of America decline so fast these days, they should just paint racing stripes on it.”
Image credits: Photographs by Seph Lawless and used with permission