It’s official! Stock-car racing is now the state sport of North Carolina.
The students of Iredell County who dreamed of putting the homegrown sport of stock-car racing on the list of “officials” for the state of North Carolina have won their case (see earlier report here). Senate Bill 322, sponsored by WNC Sens. Tom Apodaca, Republican of Hendersonville, and Martin Nesbitt, Democrat of Buncombe County, was properly enrolled and presented to the Secretary of the State Tuesday. It had gained House and Senate final approval on June 15.
“It’s an enjoyable entertainment,” Asheville City Councilman Jan Davis told the Xpress, “and it’s quite an economic issue in North Carolina, and I can tell you those people who participate are good athletes.” But Davis, who has been known to go around the track himself as an amateur, said that he wasn’t so sure the basketball community in North Carolina would agree about the designation “state sport,” which he admitted he found a bit of a stretch. Davis also noted, “To me, it does not seem to merit that kind of [legislative] attention … [but] it is a great economic driver.”
Locally, stock-car racing certainly carries its own rich history and sense of importance — legislation or not (see “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines,” Xpress, 9/24/03). And the sport has its own special memorial at the city’s Carrier Park, the former site of the Asheville Motor Speedway (see “Speedway Memorial Dedicated at Carrier Park,” Xpress, 9/23/10).
The legislative bill details the $6 billion contribution to the state’s economy along with 20,000 jobs, as well celebrating as the 30 short tracks in the state hosting 700 events throughout the year — not to mention offering the home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the N.C. Auto Racing Hall of Fame. It also cites the state as “home of ‘The King,”’ Richard Petty, stock car racing legend Junior Johnson, dubbed ‘The Last American Hero’ by writer Tom Wolfe, and seven-time champion, the late Dale Earnhardt.”
And now it’s the law: GS 145-36.
by Nelda Holder, contributing editor