Staff at NASCAR’s North Wilkesboro Speedway were inspecting the property when they found a cave-like area underneath some of the seat stands. Rumors had it that a secret moonshine cave once operated underneath the famous racetrack.

The North Wilkesboro Speedway rumor

An official statement from the North Wilkesboro Speedway announced that their staff had found a 700-square-foot cavern underneath some of the best seats to watch the NASCAR races, known as the frontstretch grandstand. The team found it during an inspection of some cracks in the concrete seats. In order to assess the damage, they had to remove the seats until they found the cave.

The senior vice president of operations at North Wilkesboro Speedway, Steve Swift, shared in the statement that they heard of the rumors of an old moonshine distiller once used in secret at the racetrack back when they started renovations in 2022. They didn’t find a moonshine still (a kind of distiller) in the cave, but there was an interior wall that could’ve helped illegal moonshine makers hide from the law.

The find comes less than two months before the North Wilkesboro Speedway is meant to host the NASCAR All-Star Race Week in May.

NASCAR’s history with moonshine

At NASCAR’s Hall of Fame, an auto racing museum, patrons can find an authentic moonshine distiller among its artifacts. The display includes wooden barrels, metal tubs and additional equipment required to make moonshine.

According to HowStuffWorks, moonshine is a type of whiskey normally made at home, but in the 18th century became associated with illegal liquor made and smuggled during the night. The term moonshiners refers to those who made the moonshine, while bootleggers refers to those who transported moonshine.

In the 20th century, bootleggers started evading police officers by racing on backcountry roads, modifying their cars to become faster until car racing became a part of Southern U.S. culture, per HowStuffWorks.

NASCAR acknowledges their origins in this moonshine business, saying, “In the first decade or so of NASCAR racing, the transportation of illegal liquor in the South was huge business, and a lot of the sport’s early stars drove, owned or built moonshine cars.”

According to NBC News, legendary NASCAR racers got their start bootlegging through the Appalachian mountains.

The North Wilkesboro Speedway has a history of being a well-known area for bootlegging during the Prohibition Era, according to CBS Sports. Different ways bootleggers would modify their cars include installing steel plates to their radiators to deflect gunshots or modify their cars to drop liquid, smoke or nails to deter officers chasing them, per NASCAR’s Hall of Fame.

Several NASCAR racers that got their start in the moonshine business include Junior Johnson, Wendell Scott, Curtis Turner and Tim Flock, per NASCAR.