Possible Moonshine Hideout Discovered Under Broken NASCAR Grandstands

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Possible Moonshine Hideout Found in NASCAR StandsIcon Sportswire - Getty Images

From 1947 to the mid-Nineties, North Wilkesboro was one of stock car racing's classic venues. It fell in popularity as NASCAR grew into a national phenomenon and eventually closed down entirely for more than two decades, but a campaign led by Dale Earnhardt Jr. led to a grand re-opening and a non-points NASCAR Cup Series race at the track last year. That return did not come with new infrastructure, though, and that means the metaphorical ghosts of the past have stuck around for a new generation to discover. Including, potentially, a moonshine cave.

While checking in on the current state of the track's old concrete grandstands, leaders found cracks under a section of seats. After removing the seats, the group found a cavity of about 700 square feet underneath the stands. That, officials say, could have been the home to a rumored moonshining operation rumored to have existed inside the track.

Was this actually the home of a moonshine still? Maybe. Maybe not. If it was, the operation was closed down a very, very long time ago. As Speedway Motorsport executive Steve Swift notes in a press release, track officials did not find a still in the cave and could not find any way in or out of the around 700 square foot space. If the cavity was used to distill and move moonshine, the tracks to actually do that were sealed in concrete and any evidence of the operation was destroyed.

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Chris Graythen - Getty Images

Whether or not the North Wilkesboro track ever contained a moonshine operation, the region of North Carolina has a long history with the practice. The track exists because stock's post-war popularity boom began here, and that boom traces its roots back to illegal liquor trade. North Wilkesboro celebrates that tradition with a unique trophy introduced last year, a functional moonshine still.

Unlike that working still, this cave is more likely just an oddity of a very old grandstand. That old concrete is now being refurbished ahead of the track's second NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race in May. This year's race will take place on a freshly repaved track surface, a key step as the track moves toward a potential return to the points-paying NASCAR schedule.

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