The race track, built by Angus Ellis along with his sons Lester, J.C., Bill, Gwyn and his brother-in-law Sam Eller, opened the track in 1955 as a quarter-mile dirt dragstrip with no return road. It made races drag on as cars would have to turn around at the top-end and travel back up the track to the pit area.
In 1968, Bill Ellis took sole ownership of the drag strip and changed the name to North Wilkesboro Dragway. While Ellis only ran the track part-time that year due to his commitments with Bobby Allison in NASCAR and Jerry Grant at the Indianapolis 500, it led to 1969 being the first full season for the track with Jet Car Shows, Funny Car Match Races, and Top Fuel Shows.
As a driver, Ellis was highly successful in drag racing. From 1957 to 1969, he drove five different cars and amassed over 120 wins.
Wilkesboro Dragway was the home of some of the most famous Pro Stock racers in the country. Drivers such as the iconic Roy Hill, Stuart McDade, Bruce Walker, and Don Carlton amongst a few all raced at the facility during their careers.
For his hard work and determination, Bill Ellis was inducted into the North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2016 and was the recipient of the Pioneer Award.
"It is amazing to see the track become what it is today," Wilkesboro Dragway Public Relations Manager Jeffrey Ellis said. "We have a dedicated group of racers who support the facility and with the IHRA Summit Sportsman Spectacular it allows even more history to be made at this great track."
Fast forward to today and co-owners Phil and Pat Halbedel, who reside in Boone, N.C., bought track from Danny Dunn in 2014 and plan to continue the legacy of the track. In 2016, the two got married on the starting line moments before they had to call cars to the staging lanes.
The track's motto is "Come Play in Our Backyard," in which Phil and Pat encourage racers and fans to enjoy weekends every time the gates open.
Fans can attend the IHRA Summit Sportsman Spectacular at Wilkesboro Dragway, June 29-July 1. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children ages 6-12 for the weekend.
For more information about the Summit Sportsman Spectacular click here.
For more information about Wilkesboro Dragway click here.
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