Darlington Raceway To Receive Major Fan-Friendly Renovations By Labor Day Weekendby Hunter Thomas January 31, 2018 0 comments
DARLINGTON, S.C. – In a packed Media Center on Wednesday afternoon, Darlington Raceway announced that the track Too Tough To Tame will undergo an array of renovations prior to the running of the 2018 Bojangles’ Southern 500.
On hand to unveil the project, A Better Darlington…The Tradition Continues, was Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp, ISC Executive Vice President and COO Joie Chitwood and NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee and two-time Darlington Raceway winner Terry Labonte. The new capital project will consist of updated seating in the Tyler Tower, Wallace and Colvin Grandstands, new signage honoring past winners and other renovations around the track.
“You know for us, it’s a really exciting time,” Chitwood said to TheFourthTurn.com. “We’re investing in this sport, and it’s all about the fan and their experience. We’ve got to make sure that they’ve got great venues to attend, as well as the comfort opportunities that they expect when they come to venues. Whether it’s Daytona, ISM Raceway, or Richmond, we’re really excited to add Darlington to that list. When you think about what Darlington represents for us, I mean it tells so much about where we came from and how cool this property is.
“What a great time for Kerry and his team to add these amenities, and it’s going to make this upcoming Bojangles’ Southern 500 really special. They’ve got a lot of work in front of them, so I think they’ll have a little pressure on them, but it’s all going to be ready by Labor Day weekend, and I cannot wait to hear the fans’ response. I think it’s going to match up so well with a great racetrack and a great race.”
Prior to the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend, the Tyler Tower’s traditional metal seating will be replaced by new stadium-style seating that’s more comfortable and includes cup holders. The track says that the sightlines and viewing experience will also be enhanced through this update.
Just below the Tyler Tower on the frontstretch, the Wallace Grandstand’s metal seating will be updated to a stadium-style bench with backing. Race fans will have a little more space during their experience at the Lady in Black.
On the backstretch, which used to be the original frontstretch, the Colvin Grandstand’s metal seating will be the same as the Wallace Grandstand; however, in the Colvin Grandstand, concession and restroom areas will also be updated as well.
Darlington Raceway’s fan experience has continued to evolve over time, and come Labor Day weekend, cross-over gates will allow fans easier access to the pre-race performances and ceremonies on the frontstretch during the Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR.
“We may not have the fanciest place,” Tharp said on Wednesday. “We might not have the most modern place, but we’ve got the coolest racetrack in NASCAR. And I can tell you that right now.”
Tharp continued and said, “Thanks to ISC, we are going to embark on a capital project that is going to make the fan experience here at Darlington better than ever. We’ve got the best racing that there is out there. The best experience. The throwback weekend, and coming back to Labor Day has only reinforced our place as one of the crown jewels in all of our sport. Just think about that, we are a crown jewel of our sport and certainly of this state of South Carolina, and that’s a big deal.”
When fans visit the NASCAR-sanctioned Greenville-Pickens Speedway that’s located in the Upstate of South Carolina, they see that the walls are adorned with past track champions. Now, when fans visit Darlington Raceway, there will be signage called, the Wall of Honor just behind the fencing honoring past winners at the historic racetrack.
“To be able to run my first race here at Darlington and then come back a few years later and win my first race here was really unbelievable,” Labonte said on Wednesday. “It was something special, and then to win my last race here, I think I went 23 years between the Southern 500 victories. At the time, when they moved the race away from Labor Day weekend, so I won the last race on Labor Day before they moved it away for a while. It’s really exciting to see what they’re going to do here. This is such a historic racetrack. It means so much to a lot of the competitors that have raced here over the years.”
This year, Darlington Raceway’s throwback campaign will recognize the 70th anniversary of NASCAR. According to a 2017 study conducted by Dr. Tom H. Regan of the University of South Carolina’s Department of Sport and Entertainment Management, Darlington Raceway contributes $64.6 million to the state of South Carolina, and of that, $58.5 million impacts the Pee Dee region annually. The historic weekend this year will get underway on Saturday, September 1 with the NASCAR XFINITY Series Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200, followed by the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojanlges’ Southern 500 on Sunday, September 2.
South Carolina Legislature comments:
Jay Lucas, South Carolina House of Representatives Speaker for District 65
“Darlington Raceway is one of South Carolina’s premier historical landmarks that has attracted millions of people over the last seven decades,” said Lucas in a Darlington Raceway press release. “This capital improvement project is much deserved and will spur economic growth in Darlington County and the Pee Dee. I am confident that once renovations are complete, Darlington Raceway will be considered the most exceptional sporting event venue that is far ‘Too Tough to Tame.’”
Gerald Malloy, South Carolina Senator for the 29th District
“I have worked for many years in support of a strong pro-business philosophy on behalf of Darlington County and her citizens,” said Malloy in a Darlington Raceway press release. “Today’s capital investment announcement by Darlington Raceway reflects the trust of International Speedway Corporation in the pro-business environment we have all worked so hard to achieve.
“For more than 65 years, Darlington Raceway has been a staple of our business and tourism community and I am proud to work alongside them in ensuring stable pro-business regulatory and tax policy at the state and local level to enhance continued growth and investment in South Carolina,” Malloy said.