Bobby Watson’s decade old dream will come to life on Saturday night when Carteret County Speedway, America’s newest racing facility, will host its first practice session.
Carteret County Speedway and Entertainment Complex, which is located in Swansboro, North Carolina (two miles away from Emerald Isle, North Carolina), will host its first official race on Labor Day Weekend but the atmosphere building up the opening race has been electric.
Watson, 62, began work turning the go-kart track known as Cateret County Speedway into an asphalt field of dreams 12 years ago. The vision was to build a world class short track. This dream didn’t just cost money but time as well. 12 years in fact. But, Watson never gave up.
“I built this track with no bank financing,” Watson said. “I built it out of hard work with good friends who believe in me. It’s here. When we ran the cars here for the first time, it was all smiles. My toes were smiling. Can you imagine sitting at your dinner table every night wondering how you’d do it and I did it. It’s unheard of. Everyone would give up in12 years. I never gave up.
“It’s been a burden to me but a dream come true. When you see the track, it’s more than a track, it’s an entertainment complex. We’re not doing this to hurt other short tracks. We’re here to help, get racing more involved and hopefully bring good things to the table.”
Adam Resnick, who was the promoter at Wake County Speedway for two seasons, is now the general manager at Cateret County Speedway. He said the track was the nicest track he has ever seen.
“I went there yesterday for the first time,” Resnick stated. “I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. I got to go down there again and make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I’ve been to 70 tracks and it’s nicer than a Cup track. I know it sounds crazy. They have a five star restaurant in the infield. The guy had all kinds of nostalgia there. It’s more like a museum than a racetrack … It’s that big a deal. That man had a dream. He built it with his bare hands. When it wasn’t done five years ago, I thought it would never happen. It happened. It’s real. It’s there.”
Resnick said the facilities also include multiple VIP suites with bars, handicap ramps and seating, an on-location campground and multiple historical motorsports artifacts.
Limited Late Model racer Chris Burns, 23, tested at the track last week along with Mini-Stock driver Brandon Clements. Burns said the track shares many characteristics with Langley Speedway.
“Years and years ago, it was a little ego kart track,” Burns said. “Over the last 15 years, he’s been working on getting it a nice facility. IT’s brand new, freshly built. Beautiful place. We got on it pretty good. Track seems fast. One it rains and the track gets washed off, it’s going to be really fast. It’s 4/10 mile. Nearly flat, wide sweeping turns. It’s very similar to Langley Speedway.”
Watson said he hopes to work with the other tracks in Eastern North Carolina and will run his rules based off the rules at Dillon Motor Speedway and Southern National Motorsports Park.
“It’s going to be the same rules here,” Watson explained. “We’re based on Kenly’s rules. The cars that come here can run anywhere else and race. That’s what’s wrong with racing, everyone has different rules.”
The only major difference at Carteret County will be that the cars will be required to run mufflers.
Watson said representatives from the other area racetracks are encouraged to come to Wednesday’s open house and discuss their tracks as well. He sees it as an opportunity to get all the tracks unified to strengthen racing in the region.
“This isn’t my racetrack, it’s the drivers’ track,” Watson proclaimed.
Cartret County Speedway will host its first official races on Saturday, September 5th and Sunday, September 6th.