Darlington Raceway is the granddaddy of superspeedways, having opened its gates in 1950 when most NASCAR races were held on short dirt tracks. As such, it has attained somewhat of a mythical aura among older racers and fans. The big oval has a slightly egglike shape because the original owner wanted to preserve a minnow pond that sat outside what is now turn four.
The fact that the corners at each end have a different radius makes it tough to set up a car's suspension so that it handles well all around the track, and newer drivers who misjudge a turn and scrape the wall are said to have earned their "Darlington stripe."
The track was long the home of the Southern 500 -- the first of the 500-mile races -- as well as the Rebel 300/400/500 (1960-1978) and the Transouth 500 (1983-1999). In 2005, the schedule was cut back to just one race per year, which for 2005 and 2006 was the Dodge Charger 500.
Darlington Raceway Visitor Information
Darlington Raceway contact information: Darlington Raceway. 1301 Harry Byrd Hwy., Darlington, SC (29532). Phone 843/395-8499. www.darlingtonraceway.com.
Darlington Raceway diagram: Download a PDF of the Darlington Raceway layout.
Darlington Raceway security: Coolers no larger than 6 x 6 x 12 inches are allowed. Other items brought into the raceway must be in an approved container: either a soft-sided insulated bag (6 x 6 x 12 inches) or a clear plastic bag (18 x 18 x 4 inches). Binoculars, cameras, headsets, etc. must be worn separately around the neck or clipped to the belt. Items not allowed include firearms, knives, fireworks, hard-sided coolers, thermos bottles, insulated cups, strollers, and umbrellas.
Darlington Raceway parking: Free parking to accommodate a full house of 60,000 fans is available on grassy areas around the track.
Darlington Raceway first aid: Paramedics staff first-aid stations in the concourse areas behind the front stretch and backstretch. Doctors are on duty at the medical care facility in the infield.
Darlington Raceway concessions: Stands are located at ground level, at the top of the grandstands, and on the concourses. They offer the usual racing menu of hot dogs, burgers, sausages, fries, barbecue, and the regional specialty, boiled peanuts.