Darlington Raceway

Track Length: 1.366-miles
Race Length:500 Miles
First Race:Sep. 4, 1950 - Southern 500
Banking:23° - 25° (Corners); 6° (Straights)
Lengths:1,229 feet (Frontstretch & Backstretch)

Track History

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 500
Darlington, S.C. 29540

Harold Brasington, a local Darlington businessman, returned home from the 1933 Indianapolis 500 with the idea of little ol' Darlington having a paved superspeedway, a place to hold big-time stock car events. He believed that Bill France's fledgling NASCAR just might catch on, and in the fall of 1949, he set out to shape a 1.25 mile speedway on land that had once produced peanuts and cotton.

Brasington and his crew toiled for a year to build the Darlington Raceway, with Brasington himself often at the controls of bulldozers and grading equipment. Brasington's plan called for a true oval, but the racetrack's design had to be changed in order to satisfy Mr. Ramsey, the landowner, who did not want his nearby minnow pond disturbed. The west end of the track (Turns 3 and 4) was narrowed to accommodate the fishing hole, creating Darlington's distinctive egg-shaped design.

The first race was scheduled for Labor Day 1950, and when the day finally came the stands overflowed with a shocking crowd of over 25,000 fans. Fans practically stood on top of each other and they scaled the fence just for a glimpse of the action.

Californian Johnny Mantz drove to victory that day in the first Southern 500, which took over 6 hours to complete but set a precedent for a sport that would grow to be one of the largest spectator sports in the country. Mantz started dead last in the field of 75 racers, many of whom had never raced on asphalt, but roared to the checkered flag averaging a blistering 76 mph. Over the next fifty years, names like Baker, Flock, Thomas, Pearson, Yarborough, Petty, and Earnhardt became commonplace in Victory Lane.

Remembered today as the original superspeedway and as one of the pillars of the NASCAR establishment, Darlington Raceway is known as the track "Too Tough to Tame."

Directions & Parking

When traveling either north or south on I-95
Take exit number 164. Turn right onto Highway 52. Follow the Highway 52 bypass all the way to the Highway 151 exit, about five miles. After turning right onto the exit ramp, turn left at the light onto Highway 151. Darlington Raceway will be ½ mile on the left.

From I-20 (east or west)
Take Exit 131. Turn left onto Highway 401. At the first stoplight (about 13 miles), turn left. Go past the school and turn right onto Racetrack Road. Darlington Raceway will be 1/4 mile on the left.

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