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11-year-old driver makes history at North Wilkesboro Speedway

Paulie Hartwig III became the youngest driver to win at the track. He even beat someone pretty close to him.

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — Racing was back on at North Wilkesboro Speedway on Wednesday after a soldout opening night. The track's return is already historic. Tuesday night, an 11-year-old boy became the youngest driver ever to win there. 

WFMY News 2's Grace Holland caught up with racing lovers and found out what the return means for the track's future. 

"This community has waited for this for so very long. It's been over a decade since racing was at North Wilkesboro Speedway," said senior manager of digital media and marketing for XR Events, Brandon Brown. XR Events is the group that is putting on the races at North Wilkesboro Speedway. 

The historic track opened to a sold-out crowd full of some familiar racing faces. 

Ryan Newman took home a win. Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrated the track's reopening from the infield. 

But the newest record set at the track came from car 73. 

"To see a little Paulie get out...and raise his hands and be so happy," said Brown. 

11-year-old Paulie Hartwig III became the youngest driver to win at the track.

"When I got to the lead, I was shocked and I was really excited and got out of the car and was hugging my family and stuff," Paulie said. 

Among the adults he beat - his own dad. 

"The problem is, he's a kid and he doesn't even realize he just set history. He's just a kid...and doesn't even realize all the races he's winning. This is his fourth not-modified win this year already," said Paul Hartwig Jr. 

It's the kind of energy organizers hope will continue, with more racing events to come and renovations planned at the historic track. 

"We kicked it off so well with a soldout crowd, need to continue that momentum because that will dictate the future of this facility," said Brown. 

The track's pavement is set for removal, restoring it to its original dirt track for racing in October. 

Paulie didn't stop there. He won another race Wednesday night. 

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