Long before NASCAR, North Carolina established its reputation for being a state that took racing seriously. In the 18th and 19th Centuries, horse racing in North Carolina was a serious endeavor. Great race horses like Sir Archie (whose descendant was Secretariat) made the state the locus of racing in the South. While horse racing in North Carolina declined after the Civil War, it still remained fairly popular. The card below (ca. 1905-1915) shows a horse race at Pinehurst.
Stock car racing and NASCAR had its roots in bootlegging during Prohibition. Today, Charlotte is a major hub for the sport, and the card below shows the Charlotte Motor Speedway (ca. 1940-1960).
In the late 1940s, two dog racing associations opened in Morehead City and Moyock. They were popular until the North Carolina Supreme Court outlawed them in 1953. Below is a postcard from 1950, showing the Greyhound Rack Track at Morehead City, NC.
While these represent some of North Carolina’s more iconic forms of racing, a quick search in the NC Postcards website returns views showing all kinds of races, by land and by sea:
(L) Foot race in Mount Airy; (R) Sack race at Wrightsville Beach
(L) Sail boat race at Wrightsville Beach; (R) Canoe race at Wrightsville Beach