NORTH WILKESBORO — Dormant to NASCAR racing since 1996, the recently approved state budget could signal a green flag for North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Last week Gov. Roy Cooper signed the state’s $25.9 billion budget into law. In that budget lies $40 million to go toward three North Carolina racetracks, including $18 million for North Wilkesboro Speedway. More specifically, the money is set for Wilkes County upgrades “to coordinate with relevant local government units for water and sewer and related infrastructure projects for service to the North Wilkesboro Speedway.”

Speedway Motorsports (SMI) president/CEO Marcus Smith said the new state budget for the North Wilkesboro Speedway “provides the starting capital needed to rebuild the infrastructure of the historic facility,” according to the Wilkes-Journal Patriot.

Concord-based SMI owns the North Wilkesboro Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and seven other racing facilities in other states.

Smith said, “With state budget amounts now finalized, we can zero in on project priorities and determine work schedules” for improvements to the North Wilkesboro Speedway. “The goal will be to modernize the property so that it can host racing and special events again in the future.”

Charlotte Motor Speedway and Rockingham Speedway are the other racetracks to benefit from the budget.

North Wilkesboro Speedway, a 0,625-mile oval, hosted NASCAR events between 1949-1996.

According to the Wilkes-Journal, N.C. Rep. Jeffrey Elmore of North Wilkesboro, who played a key role in securing the funds for the North Wilkesboro Speedway, said discussions call for the town of North Wilkesboro to extend a sewer line to the speedway and for the town of Wilkesboro to extend a water line to the track. No local matching funds for the $18 million are required, said Elmore.

The budget appropriates $13 million to Concord for water and sewer projects and related infrastructure for service to the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Richmond County is to get $9 million for similar work on the Rockingham Speedway.