About The Museum
The Era of Winston Cup
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series began in 1971 when R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s Winston Brand became the title sponsor of NASCAR’s elite division, the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National Division. Winston was the first non-automotive sponsor to enter NASCAR on a fulltime basis. Over the next 33 years, the Winston sponsorship ushered in what is considered to be the “modern era” of NASCAR.
The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company decided to end its sponsorship in 2003. That year, Matt Kenseth won the championship. Following the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, 1971 Winston Cup champion Richard Petty drove a 1971 Plymouth while Kenseth’s team owner, Jack Roush, followed in a 2003 Ford Taurus in “The Victory Lap,” the final Winston Cup lap ever. The cars driven by Petty and Roush are both on display at The Winston Cup Museum.
The History of Our Racing Museum
“I wanted to give something back to the city of Winston-Salem as well as preserve the 33 year history of Winston Cup Racing because it had such a positive impact on me and my business.”
“So much has happened in those 33 years, and if you look at where NASCAR was in 1971 when the sponsorship started compared to where it was when it ended in 2003, it’s really amazing. I had been thinking about some sort of a museum for some time, but in 2003, when RJR decided to get out of NASCAR, the museum idea had a purpose.”
Museum Founder and Owner
Originally opened in 2005 by founder and owner, Will Spencer, the Winston Cup Museum tells the story of stock car racing during the legendary Winston Cup Series era of NASCAR. Will began working on The Winston Cup Museum shortly after the Winston sponsorship ended in 2003. The idea to create a museum came after talking with longtime car owner, Richard Childress. With several original racecars just sitting in storage, Childress suggested to Will that they should be put on display for fans to enjoy.
The building was purchased from the City of Winston-Salem in October of 2004. Construction began the next month and was completed in late April 2005. The City of Winston-Salem contributed new sidewalks and landscaping to the project and the museum opened to the public in May 2005.
Will Spencer is a Winston-Salem native and is owner of JKS Motorsports, which has had a 35-year involvement with NASCAR and the motorsports industry. He has a large personal car collection and showcases some of them as part of the rotation at the museum.
Today’s Winston Cup Museum
Located in downtown Winston-Salem, NC, the museum is just a few blocks away from 6th Street and the Trade Street Arts District. Winston-Salem has a rich racing history and is the home of Bowman Gray Stadium, the longest continuously operated NASCAR sanctioned track in the country. In fact, at one time, Winston-Salem had a couple of other tracks in addition to Bowman Gray Stadium: Peacehaven Speedway and Dixie Classic Fairgrounds Track.
The Winston Cup Museum is the only place where you can experience the fabulous Winston Cup Series era of NASCAR. As you walk through, you will see exhibits and photos that capture the 33 years that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company sponsored NASCAR’s premier series. Cars driven by Dale Earnhardt, Sr., Alan Kulwicki and Wendell Scott are on display and you can relive Michael Waltrip’s victory in The Winston in 1996 and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s thrilling Winston No Bull 5 win at Talladega Superspeedway.
Come experience the nostalgia and the excitement of a special era in the history of NASCAR. We’re looking forward to seeing you!
What was the first paved track in Winston Cup history?
Answer: The Darlington Raceway, also known as the “The Track Too Tough to Tame” and “The Lady in Black”, was the first paved NASCAR track. Its inaugural race was held on Labor Day, 1950.