North Carolina now has official sport

Nathan Ham, Sports Writer

June 30, 2011

North Carolina Senate Bill 322. To many people, those words mean nothing. However, to those that follow stock car racing, that bill means quite a bit. Last week, Governor Beverly Purdue signed this bill into law, making stock car racing the official sport of North Carolina.

Racing has quite a heritage in the southern states, but especially in North Carolina. Not only does stock car racing leave a mark in the history and heritage of the state, but it has a big economic impact on the region as well. According to information in the piece of legislature, the motorsports industry has a six billion dollar economic impact on the state, and has been responsible for 20,000 jobs directly and indirectly related to the motorsports world.

While there is professional hockey, football, and basketball teams in the state, as well as successful college sports programs in football and basketball, stock car racing is the most well-known sport in the state. North Carolina is home to more than 30 stock car tracks, both dirt and asphalt, and have more than 700 events hosted during any given racing season.

Besides the short track races that get community attendance throughout the state, North Carolina is also home to Charlotte Motor Speedway, a track that consistently brings in over one million visitors each year between the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, and other racing events. While Daytona International Speedway hosts more Sprint Cup Series events in a given year with five, including two points races, two qualifying races and the Bud Shootout, CMS is the only other track on the circuit that hosts more than two events, with the All-Star race being ran here to go along with the two regular season events.

Off the track, the impact of stock car racing can be seen in other aspects throughout the state. North Carolina is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame as well as the N.C. Auto Racing Hall of Fame, two of the most visited auto racing monuments in the country. The state is also home to more than 90-percent of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams.

Finally, who can forget that some of the best and most famous drivers in the history of auto racing were from the state? Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant and Dale Jarrett are just a few of those that were all born right here in North Carolina.