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Darlington Raceway

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Darlington Raceway is a race track built for NASCAR racing located near Darlington, South Carolina It is nicknamed "The Lady in Black" and "The Track Too Tough to Tame" by many NASCAR fans and drivers and advertised as "A NASCAR Tradition" It is of a unique, somewhat egg-shaped design, an oval with the ends of very different configurations, a condition which supposedly arose from the proximity of one end of the track to a minnow pond the owner refused to relocate This situation makes it very challenging for the crews to set up their cars' handling in a way that will be effective at both ends


  • 1 History
  • 2 Races
  • 3 Records
    • 31 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series records
  • 4 Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum
  • 5 Film
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links


Layout of the race track

Harold Brasington was a retired racer in 1948, who had gotten to know Bill France, Sr while competing against France at the Daytona Beach Road Course and other dirt tracks in the Southeast and Midwestern United States; he quit racing in the late 1940s to concentrate on farming and his construction business2 He began planning a new speedway after he noticed the huge crowds while attending the 1948 Indianapolis 5002 and thought, "If Tony Hulman can do it here, I can do it back home"2 Brasington bought 70 acres from farmer Sherman Ramsey, and started making a race track from a cotton and peanut field2 However, he was forced to create an egg-shaped oval with one corner tighter, narrower, and more steeply banked because he promised Ramsey that the new track wouldn't disturb Ramsey's minnow pond at the west side of the property2 Brasington was able to make the other turn at the east side of the property wide, sweeping, and flat as he wanted2 It took almost a year to build the track2

Dale Earnhardt Jr on pit road, as his team completes a pit stop during the 2008 Dodge Challenger 500

Brasington made a deal in the summer of 1950 with France to run a 500-mile 800 km race in Darlington on Labor Day that year The first Southern 500 carried a record $25,000 purse, and was co-sanctioned by NASCAR and its rival Central States Racing Association3 More than 80 entrants showed up for the race3 Brasington used a 2-week qualifying scheme similar to the one used at the Indianapolis 5003 Brasington was also inspired by Indianapolis when he had the 75-car field aligned in 25 rows of three cars3 These practices have been curtailed over the years as NASCAR adopted a more uniform set of guidelines with regard to the number of cars which could qualify for a race The race was won by Johnny Mantz in a car owned by France

In recent years the track has been reconfigured; since 1997, what was the front stretch is now the back stretch, from late 2003 to early 2004 lights were installed for night racing to beat the heat, and the turns have been renumbered accordingly Seating has been increased to approximately 65,000, although it has been limited by the proximity of a highway behind the back stretch and another pond; the original minnow pond is long gone

Darlington has something of a legendary quality among drivers and older fans; this is probably due to its long track length relative to other NASCAR speedways of its era and hence the first venue where many of them became cognizant of the truly high speeds that stock cars could achieve on a long track The track allegedly earned the moniker The Lady in Black because the night before the race the track maintenance crew would cover the entire track with fresh asphalt sealant, in the early years of the speedway, thus making the racing surface dark black Darlington is also known as "The Track Too Tough to Tame" because drivers can run lap after lap without a problem and then bounce off of the wall the following lap Racers will frequently explain that they have to race the racetrack, not their competition Drivers hitting the wall are considered to have received their "Darlington Stripe" thanks to the missing paint on the right side of the car


For many years, Darlington was the site of two annual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races One, the Rebel 400, was held in the spring while the other, the Southern 500, was always held on Labor Day weekend In 2003, the Labor Day race was given to California Speedway, and the Southern 500 was moved to November 2004 and was run as part of the Chase for the Nextel Cup In 2005, NASCAR eliminated the Southern 500 altogether as a result of the Ferko lawsuit, offending many fans who had followed the sport for generations The race was merged into the 400-mile 640 km spring race, and moved to Mother's Day weekend A 500-mile race named after a Dodge vehicle was held for the next four years, before the race was given the Southern 500 moniker in 2009

The move was the result of several factors Darlington suffered from poor ticket sales, particularly in the spring Part of this is due to the track's location in the Textile Belt of South Carolina, where there has been an ongoing general economic decline for many years Additionally, there is very little of interest to the average fan from outside the Darlington area other than the events at the track itself Many newer NASCAR venues are near major cities to avoid this problem A further factor in the move was an ongoing desire by NASCAR to spread its events out over more of the country However, having worn off the novelty of these newer races and venues, many venues are suffering much worse attendance than Darlington had experienced

Darlington received a $10 million upgrade in 2008, the largest investment in the track's history This followed a $6 million upgrade the previous year, which included an entire repaving of the oval for the first time since 19954

In 2014, Darlington swapped dates with Kansas Speedway and was run in April5 In 2015, the Southern 500 returned to its traditional Labor Day weekend date6


  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying: Aric Almirola, 26705 s – 184145 miles per hour 296353 km/h, April 11, 2014
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race 500 miles: Matt Kenseth, 3 h 32 min 29 s – 141383 miles per hour 227534 km/h, May 2013
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Smallest Margin of Victory: 002 seconds, Ricky Craven over Kurt Busch, March 16, 2003
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Largest Margin of Victory: 15 laps, Ned Jarrett in the 1965 Southern 500
  • NASCAR Xfinity Series Qualifying: Carl Edwards, 27784 s – 176994 miles per hour 284844 km/h, May 9, 2008
  • NASCAR Xfinity Series Race 200 miles: Michael Waltrip, 1 h 27 min 13 s – 13814 miles per hour 22231 km/h, September 5, 1992
  • NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Qualifying: Cole Whitt, 28273 s – 173933 miles per hour 279918 km/h, 2011
  • NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race 200 miles: Bobby Hamilton, 1 h 30 min 9 s – 133645 miles per hour 215081 km/h, March 14, 2003

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series recordsedit

As of 3/6/15

Most Wins 10 David Pearson
Most Top 5s 25 Richard Petty
Most Top 10s 35 Bill Elliott
Starts 65 Richard Petty
Poles 12 David Pearson
Most Laps Completed 17582 Ricky Rudd
Most Laps Led 2648 Dale Earnhardt
Avg Start 37 Fred Lorenzen
Avg Finish 59 Denny Hamlin

from minimum 5 starts

Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museumedit

The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum is an automotive museum that focuses on the history of Darlington Raceway and the sport of stock car racing Exhibits include race car history, memorabilia and classic cars, including ones driven at Darlington by such famous race car drivers as Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, and the 1950 Plymouth that Johnny Mantz drove to win the first Southern 500 at Darlington The museum also features the National Motorsports Press Association NMPA Hall of Fame about the sport of NASCAR racing Inductees include Alan Kulwicki, David Pearson, Junior Johnson, Lee Petty, Richard Petty and Neil Bonnett

The museum was conceived by NASCAR race car champion Joe Weatherly, who was killed while driving at Riverside International Raceway in 1964, and was dedicated to him in 1965 The museum was originally known as the Joe Weatherly Stock Car Museum until it was expanded in 20037


The 1959 Southern 500 is prominently featured in the 1960 film Thunder in Carolina, starring Rory Calhoun and Alan Hale Jr

See alsoedit

  • 1950 Southern 500
  • Darlington Record Club
  • List of NASCAR tracks


  1. ^ "Darlington Raceway Track News, Records & Links" jayskicom jayskicom Retrieved March 5, 2016 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Fleischman, Bill; Al Pearce 1999 The Unauthorized NASCAR Fan Guide 1998-99 Visible Ink Press p 7 
  3. ^ a b c d Fleischman, page 8
  4. ^ Autoracingdailycom article about resurfacing
  5. ^ Cain, Holly October 11, 2013 "Kansas, Darlington to swap schedule spots in '14" NASCARcom NASCAR Media Group, LLC Retrieved October 11, 2013 
  6. ^ "NASCAR reveals 2015 schedules for national series" NASCARcom Daytona Beach, Florida: NASCAR Media Group, LLC August 26, 2014 Retrieved August 26, 2014 
  7. ^ Darlingtonracewaycom

External linksedit

  • Darlington Raceway Official Site
  • Map and circuit history at RacingCircuitsinfo
  • Darlington Raceway race results at Racing-Reference
  • Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum
  • Darlington Raceway Page on NASCARcom
  • Darlington Raceway Seating Chart

Coordinates: 34°17′44″N 79°54′21″W / 3429562°N 7990596°W / 3429562; -7990596

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Darlington Raceway

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