Darlington Raceway is a race track located in Darlington, South Carolina. For some of our Geography majors Darlington sits just northwest of where I-95 and I-20 meet in South Carolina, roughly 80 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach. The Raceway has two nicknames "The Lady in Black" and "The Track Too Tough to Tame”. Darlington Raceway was also the first super-speedway built for NASCAR Racing. So, it may be known as the “Lady in Black” but it’s really the “Grand-Daddy of them all”, which is Ironic since Darlington Raceway will also be the first race back following the COVID-19 Shut down.
This first race back from the COVID-19 shutdown on May 17th will be starting “cold turkey” with a no practice, no qualifying, 400-mile race with live pit stops. For the Real Heroes 400 qualifying order will be a hybrid of owner points and a pill draw (bingo ball).
Positions 1 through 12 will pill draw based on charter team owner points, 13 through 24 & 25 through 36 will also and bringing up the rear will be the open teams or “non-charter” teams drawing for spots 37-40. This pill draw will take place Thursday night on NASCAR Race Hub on FS1 at 6 p.m. eastern.
NASCAR has stated it will not be the same way every race to mix it up. We will be returning to the Raceway again on the 19 and 20 for the Xfinity Toyota 200 and the second Cup Toyota 500k race. As of right now Labor Day’s Southern 500 is still in place and on schedule. It has been said NASCAR may be back here or somewhere else close, if there are other tracks NASCAR can not get to due to state’s governor’s shut-down restrictions.
Darlington Raceway’s tale of the tape: Length 1.366 miles (2.198 km), Turns 1 and 2: 25° Turns 3 and 4: 23°, Front Straight: 3°, Back Straight: 2°
Harold Brasington, the raceway’s Creator was a retired racer in 1948, who had gotten to know Bill France, Sr., NASCAR’s founder while competing at the Daytona Beach Road Course. Brasington quit racing to concentrate on farming and his construction business. Brasington noticed the huge crowds while attending the 1948 Indianapolis 500 and thought “I can do that back at home.”.
So back in Darlington, Brasington bought 70 acres from farmer Sherman Ramsey, and started making a track out of a cotton and peanut field. However, he had to create the track’s iconic egg-shape with one corner tighter, narrower, and more steeply banked because he promised Ramsey that the new track would not disturb Ramsey's minnow pond at the west side of the property, which is still there to this day.
Brasington made a deal in the summer of 1950 with Bill France Sr. to run a 500-mile race in Darlington on Labor Day. The first Southern 500 carried a record $25,000 purse and was co-sanctioned by NASCAR and its rival Central States Racing Association, with more than 80 cars showing up for the race.
Brasington used a two-week qualifying scheme like the one used at the Indianapolis 500. Brasington was also inspired by the Indy 500 when he had the seventy-five car field aligned in twenty-five rows of three cars. These practices have been heavily modified over the years as NASCAR has more uniform guidelines with the number of cars which could qualify for a race. The Inaugural race was won by Johnny Mantz in a car owned by Bill France Sr.
Darlington Raceway is Home of these current NASCAR Series records:
- CUP Smallest Margin of Victory: .002 seconds, Ricky Craven over Kurt Busch, March 16, 2003.
- CUP Qualifying: Aric Almirola, 26.705 s – 184.145 miles per hour (296.353 km/h), April 11, 2014
- CUP Race (500 miles): Matt Kenseth, 3 h 32 min 45 s – 141.383 miles per hour (227.534 km/h), May 2013
- CUP Largest Margin of Victory: 15 laps, Ned Jarrett in the 1965 Southern 500.
- XFINITY Qualifying: Carl Edwards, 27.784 s – 176.994 miles per hour (284.844 km/h), May 9, 2008
- XFINITY Race (200 miles): Michael Waltrip, 1 h 27 min 13 s – 138.14 miles per hour (222.31 km/h), September 5, 1992
- Gander Outdoor & RV Trucks Qualifying: Cole Whitt, 28.273 s – 173.933 miles per hour (279.918 km/h), 2011
- Gander Outdoor & RV Trucks Race (200 miles): Bobby Hamilton, 1 h 30 min 9 s – 133.645 miles per hour (215.081 km/h), March 14, 2003