SWANSBORO, NC – Carteret County Speedway opened its doors to the public for the first time on Wednesday night and the first impression the brand new speedway, located two miles from Emerald Isle, left was positive.
The racetrack itself, at 4/10-mile, mirrors Langley Speedway, which is located in Hampton, Virginia. The facilities, however, are unlike anything in racing. The track is like a motorsports museum with a Cheeseburger in Paradise atmosphere. Inside the track sits the full-service Moonshiners restaurant. The track, inside and out, is decorated with memorabilia from NASCAR racing’s past and present.
The visionary of Carteret County Speedway is 62-year-old Bobby Watson, a modern day Carl Fisher who dreamed big, reached for the stars and worked for over a decade to watch his dream become a reality.
“I’ll tell you what, we worked hard at this place,” Watson said. “We appreciate [RACE22.com] coming and helping us on the internet every way you can. We have offered something races have never offered before to racers, families and women. We’ve got the restaurant, we got cool places to stay and we’ve got places where people can go and all that stuff.”
With one glance of the stunning facility, one could wonder if this was what Watson had originally dreamt up or if it was even more immaculate than his original vision.
“It was my vision,” Watson remarked. “There were no blueprints on the place. It was all in my head.”
Dozens of people, from racers to fans to even NASCAR legend Junior Johnson, came out to see the grand unveiling of America’s newest motorsports venue. Watson was encouraged by the turnout for the opening day gala.
“They’re showing their support,” Watson commented. “Look at the billboards of people sponsoring. It’s unreal. This means it all to me, my whole life. This is what I’d give for race drivers and race fans. I love it. We’re not through by any way. Wait until Labor Day, there’s more to come.”
NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson, who won 50 races as a driver and 123 races and six championships as a car owner, advised Watson during the construction of the racetrack.
“I think it’s been a long time coming,” Johnson said. “I think they’re going to have some good races here. People will have fun down here. [The turnout] shows what the track’s going to present to them and how they’re going to treat them and stuff like that.”
KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Series driver Jeremy Mayfield, who scored five wins in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career driving for Roger Penske and later Ray Evernham, was also impressed with the racetrack. Mayfield compared the new speedway to Daytona and Indianapolis.
“When I first pulled in, I couldn’t believe it,” Mayfield remarked. “This is definitely one of the nicest racetracks I’ve ever been to. I’m not joking. The way the grass is, the concrete pits, it doesn’t get any better. They’ve done a great job here. I’m really impressed and I’d love to come race here.
“I’ve been to a lot of tracks across the country, from NASCAR tracks to dirt tracks, and this has to be the nicest one I’ve been to,” Mayfield continued. “Indianapolis is pretty nice but this is right there with them, I’ll tell you that. There’s a camping area outside. It’s just beautiful. It’s second to none. They did a great job. I promise you, this is the nicest short track I’ve ever been to.”
The gala featured live music from Curtis Hyler & Jubilation, a classic car cruise in and open practice in the primetime under the lights. Carteret County Speedway will hold its first race on Labor Day Weekend.