Enoch Rufus Staley
Enoch Rufus Staley
Year Inducted: 2016
Enoch Rufus Staley, President of North Wilkesboro Speedway, was a charter member of NASCAR and pioneer in the sport. Staley worked multiple roles as the sport grew to attain the international prominence it enjoys today. Along with several partners, he built the track in 1946, three years before NASCAR ran its first sanctioned race. He had offices in Daytona Beach, FL and Talladega, AL and was a full time employee of NASCAR. He was also part owner and president of Asheville- Weaverville Speedway and Hillsborough Speedway, also NASCAR Cup tracks.
The five-eighths mile dirt track in North Wilkesboro was paved in 1957 and hosted two races annually in NASCAR’s top division, including many classic battles. A race in the mid-sixties was the first NASCAR race shown live on network television as the race date was moved from Sunday to Saturday, and the race time moved from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. so the final half of the race could be shown on “ABC Wide World of Sports.”
Later, the North Wilkesboro Speedway held races in NASCAR’s top three series. From the speedway’s inception in 1949 until its closure in 1996, in addition to the top series, 93 Sprint Cup Series races were run. Included in the top races were the Tyson Holly Farms 400 and the First Union 400.
The late Enoch Rufus Staley attended Roaring River High School, where he played center for the basketball team. He played for over a decade with the Eller’s Yellow Jackets semi- pro basketball team.
The North Wilkesboro Speedway pumped millions of dollars into the local economy over the years and showcased not only the track but Wilkes County on the national and international stage as the sport of NASCAR grew. The two Cup races were broadcast live on ESPN beginning in the mid '80s.
Staley received numerous awards and was honored as Wilkes County Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year, a member of the North Wilkesboro Rotary Club for his outstanding and dedicated service to the club, NASCAR Award of Appreciation for his pioneering efforts, commitment and dedication to Winston Cup Racing and for his legendary role as the official pace car driver for many years. The International Motorsports Hall of Fame, located in Talladega, AL, named one of its major buildings after him: “The Enoch Staley Building."