036_Anthem Annual 2017 February Edition.p1

2017 Anthem Annual February

Harold Brasington, DARLINGTON a local Darlington businessman, returned home from the 1933 Indianapolis 500 with the idea of little ol’ Darlington, South Carolina having a paved superspeedway, a place to hold big-time stock-car events. He believed that Bill France’s fledgling NASCAR 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 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 Sherman 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 eggshaped design. The first race was scheduled for Labor Day 1950. When the day finally came, the stands overflowed with a shocking crowd of more than 25,000. Fans practically stood on top of each other and they scaled the fence for only a glimpse of the action. Californian Johnny Mantz drove to victory that day in the first Southern 500, which took more than six 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 43rd in the field of 75 Raceway drivers, many of whom had never raced on asphalt, but roared to the checkered flag, averaging a blistering 76 mph. More than 60 years later, Darlington Raceway is still remembered as one of the pillars of the NASCAR establishment. With its reputation, Darlington has always been known as the track “Too Tough to Tame.” In 2015, NASCAR returned to Darlington Raceway on Labor Day weekend for the first time since 2003 (races were held at Darlington on Labor Day weekend from 1950-2003). Since then, the 2015 and 2016 Bojangles’ Southern 500 event weekends featured the track’s award-winning throwback campaign, a celebration of the history and heritage of the sport, which is a big hit with race fans. On Labor Day weekend 2017, Darlington Raceway will host NASCAR racing and “Year 3” of its throwback campaign. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 will be held on September 3, with the NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Haircuts 200 run on September 2. Jeff Curry/NASCAR via Getty Images 36 ANTHEM MOTORSPORTS ANNUAL


2017 Anthem Annual February
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