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NASCAR World in Mourning as North Wilkesboro’s 60-Year-Long Caretaker & Biggest Asset Loses Battle With Cancer

Published 11/19/2023, 11:37 PM EST

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The return of North Wilkesboro has been a matter of pride for NASCAR fans. The iconic venue, once known as ‘the perfect racetrack, returned to mainstream hosting this season. To mark the renovation and revival of the track, the North Wilkesboro Speedway hosted the 2023 All-Star Race. Popular figures in the community, like Dale Earnhardt Jr and SMI President Marcus Smith, have been credited for it. However, apart from them, the one who stood by the track through multiple seasons and barren runs was the track’s caretaker, Paul Call.

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In a heartbreaking development, Paul Call has passed away after helping NASCAR bring back some old glory to the forgotten track. Call had to face a struggle with cancer and lost the fight on Sunday. As Paul’s beautiful and determined story ends, a wave of sadness has passed through the NASCAR community.

Paul Call: The man who stood by North Wilkesboro when nobody did


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Following the shutting down of the track, the venue was opened to the public. Fans and lovers of the track flocked from different parts of the country to look at one of the tracks that had shaped their experience as racing fans. Despite the NASCAR community forgetting about its importance in the long run, Paul Call never did. Call began his service at the Speedway in 1963, when he arrived as a young 18-year-old boy.

Following NASCAR taking away the limelight from the speedway, he used to be the only person safeguarding it. Despite its track wearing out and needing replacement, the seats, the lawns, the logos, and the victory lane were still preserved with love and affection by none other than Paul Call.


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The track had remained closed since 1996. While Dale Earnhardt Jr took the initiative among the drivers and Marcus Smith nodded in affirmation, the cultural status of NWBS remaining redundant for 26 years seemed to be a cultural loss for the sport. Call’s unfortunate demise has brought eyes to Wilkesboro again.

Following an elongated battle with cancer, Call couldn’t put up the fight any longer. One of the many happy moments of his life will surely be the revival of the track before his passing. The All-Star Race in May was a glorious affair where Kyle Larson blitzed past his competitors in a jam-packed arena with an electric atmosphere. After all, Paul Call’s efforts to preserve his beloved speedway paid off.

The NASCAR community is deeply saddened

Award-winning motorsports journalist and author Deb William conveyed her condolences for a huge loss for the NASCAR community on Twitter, as she wrote, “Anyone who visited @NWBSpeedway after it was shuttered in 1996 & until it reopened to #NASCAR earlier this year met Paul Call, who lived on the property & guarded it. It is with deep sadness that I must tell you that Paul lost his battle with cancer today.”

Multiple journalists and racing enthusiasts visited Paul during the time that the venue was out of action. Among them, one was also renowned NASCAR journalist Matt Weaver. Weaver also took to Twitter to express his sadness as he reminisced about his experience with Paul during his visit to the formerly shut-down track in 2015. He posted,

“Paul was gracious when I visited. I’m grateful he kept NWS ready until it was time to return. Equally grateful a conclusion I reached in ’15 missed the mark. ‘The end of his life, hopefully many years from now, may also mean the end of North Wilkesboro.

Save the Speedway is a public movement that was started in order to realize Paul’s and many fans’ dreams of watching NASCAR return to North Wilkesboro again. Voicing their sadness, they wrote,

“For more than 60 years North Wilkesboro Speedway has been cared for by one man, Paul Call who began working for Enoch Staley when he was just 16 years old watching the track flourish with the best NASCAR drivers in the world and the biggest of events.”


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“When the track closed in 1996, Paul continued his work as the only employee of the speedway caring for the track he lived next to, telling stories and keeping the facility safe. Paul never lost faith NASCAR would return and the speedway would reopen and it did with the 2023 NASCAR All Star Race right outside his front door as he watched the speedway reborn. Paul was a friend and his stories will be missed.


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For years, Paul Call was synonymous with the track until NASCAR returned to it. The high-octane stock car racing returning to it must have been a beautiful sight for him after having dedicated a big chunk of his life to the preservation of the speedway.

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Written by:

Ansuman Abhisek


One take at a time

I instantly fell in love with the sport as I witnessed the cars' breakneck speeds and the robust nature of the sport and its drivers. As I had a deep-rooted interest in automobiles, the sport naturally piqued my interest in a jiffy. Kyle Busch and his cutthroat style of racing played an important role in getting me hooked to stock car racing as I hopped on streams to watch him win races.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta