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Darlington represents the best of NASCAR

By admin | May 10, 2012

By Richard Allen

I have seen Sprint Cup races in person on at least ten different race tracks and, of course, I have seen all of them on television. For my money, Darlington Raceway is the best to attend in person and a favorite to watch on TV as well.

The 1.366 mile ‘Lady in Black’ represents all that drew me and many others to this sport initially. This is a track unlike any other on the NASCAR schedule with its odd oval shape created by the builder’s desire not to disturb a pond located near the property. Those turns were also built with slightly differing banking on each end as well, which requires adaptation in both driving styles and setups.

The track’s abrasive surface causes tires to wear quickly, which will reward the driver who plans well and conserves during the early part of a run while punishing the driver who uses his equipment up too soon after his most recent pit stop.

So many of today’s tracks are the same. From week to week it seems as though the location may change in NASCAR but the actual race course does not. The smoothly paved, similarly shaped 1.5-2 mile ‘cookie cutter’ facilities designed within the last twenty years or so do not offer the distinction or character of Darlington.

Driving at high speed on any race track is not easy, but Darlington goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to keeping drivers on their toes. A narrow groove and slippery surface make for an adventurous 500 mile trip in the low country of South Carolina. By the end of the night, more than a few cars will be displaying a prominent ‘Darlington Stripe’ on the right side.

Even more than that, this track is part of the original lore of this sport. Opened in 1950 by Harold Brasington, this was NASCAR’s original super speedway. The most legendary names have been written into the history of this track. Petty, Pearson, Allison, Yarborough, Waltrip, Earnhardt and Gordon are among the legendary figures to have won here.

A lot of things have changed throughout the history of NASCAR. But fortunately, some things have remained the same. And one of those constants has been the Darlington Raceway and its unique character. For my money, this is the best place on the circuit to watch a race.

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4 Responses to “Darlington represents the best of NASCAR”

  1. Charles Says:
    May 10th, 2012 at 2:44 pm


    Totally agree with you on Darlington is a favorite to watch races….I went from 63 to 2003 in a row…always had a good story to tell when I got back home..

    Its been my favorite track since much history….I remember in sixties..winning Darlington Southern 500 was like winning the Masters of Golf…it was a bigger deal than winning Daytona 500 at the time..Built one of the first Stock Car Museums in 65….use to be free to get in..until Nascar bought it …then they removed most of the cars and artifact in it…

    Also Darlington from me is a classic case on how mismanaged Nascar has become..nothing shows it like what Nascar did to its alma matta..

    Here they have a track they should have “embraced’ was the first superspeedway….9 years ahead of Daytona, and let me add it was built in a soybean farm in the small town of Darlington S.C…nobody complained….it created a loyal following and tradition…

    Then with all the built in advandages it had ..they had the nerve to end the Labor Day race and have it on Mothers Day….count moves like this…in the decline of Nascar and showed how shortsided money hungery management in todays Nascar became..and now the chickens have come home to roost.

    Nothing explains Nascars problems like what they did to Darlington…it just a shame of what they really could have do with this diamond in the rough….

  2. Tony Geinzer Says:
    May 11th, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I wish that Darlington was formally respected again and I still feel mad over the fact that Darlington gets less respected than most New Ovals.

  3. Wayne T. Morgan Says:
    May 11th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Only wish there wer more tracks like it. Get rid of the cookie cutters and make them a mile and a little like this part of history.

  4. Webb Racing 97 Says:
    May 12th, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I’d like to see a high banked 3/4 mile track!