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In the PeeDee of our beautiful state stands a classic, action-packed icon. The Darlington Raceway has been one of NASCAR’s prized tracks since 1950. With nicknames like “The Lady in Black” and “The Track Too Tough to Tame,” how could you not want to learn more about this Palmetto State treasure?
In 1948, Harold Brasington, a retired racer, was inspired by the Indianapolis 500 to make a track back home in Darlington, South Carolina. He bought 70 acres of land from a local farmer and started constructing the raceway. He designed an egg-shaped track to stay true to his deal with the farmer not disturb the land’s minnow pond, giving the track a sharper turn on the west side of the track.
The first race held in 1950 occurred on Labor Day, starting a tradition of Labor Day races at Darlington up until 2003 when the race was moved to Mother’s Day weekend. However, in 2015, the tradition carried on, moving the Southern 500 back to its classic Labor Day weekend date.
As for the nicknames, “The Lady in Black” was given for the fresh asphalt sealant laid on the track the night before race days, giving a dark black appearance in the early days of Darlington Raceway. “The Track Too Tough to Tame” comes from the number of cars that hit the wall several laps into the race. Many NASCAR drivers have attested to this name, saying that when racing at Darlington, you’re racing the track, not the competition. Those that do hit the wall earn the “Darlington Stripe”, a term coined after the stripe of missing paint on the side of the car.
The Darlington Raceway is still going strong with events throughout the year. Take a look at their calendar or stop by the museum to get a taste of this South Carolina tradition.