How Is Passing At Darlington Speedway? [Updated!]

Darlington is one of the most famous NASCAR racetracks. Since its inception in 1927, it has been the site of some historic races. The most famous of these is undoubtedly the Great Depression-era “Double Header,” which featured the only simultaneous racing that took place at that time. In order to fund the project, renowned automobile designer Henry Ford donated all of his weekly paychecks for the entire year of 1932. The “Double Header” was held on a Sunday and featured two separate races, one for grandstand spectators and the other for those in the infield. Ford’s weekly paychecks covered the cost of an entire NASCAR team!

Since then, the track has continued to host some of the most important races in NASCAR history. In 2011, for example, NASCAR’s most prestigious series, the Cup, visited the track. Over 23,000 people turned up to watch the race live, and over 600,000 tuned in to watch it on TV. This makes it the fourth-largest sports event in Canada in terms of viewership.

Although traffic jams and parking problems are common during peak hours, the majority of people still consider it to be a great place to be. This is probably because of the nostalgic appeal of watching NASCAR cars speed by, the beautiful scenery, or the fact that it’s only an hour and a half from Toronto!

But what is passing at Darlington Speedway? Is it as good as the rest of the country thinks it is? Does it live up to the hype? Let’s take a look.

The Track Layout & Grandstands

Darlington is a four-turn, high-banked oval track. As mentioned, this makes it one of the most famous NASCAR tracks. It is a very popular venue for motorcycle racers, too. This also means that it’s very easy to get around on foot. In fact, there is almost no point of view that you will not be able to see from the track. The track is laid out in a way that ensures all four corners are visible from every angle. It has very short straightaways, which make for some great overtaking opportunities. This is also one of the reasons why it is so popular among motorcyclists. This short track probably also explains why there are so many accidents, especially on the backstretch. This is where the majority of the accidents occur because of the lack of sight-lines and the prevalence of blind corners. Drivers also tend to rush their cars through those corners because they think they can beat the other drivers. This is often wrong!

The IRL Lane Usage & Chicanes

One of the interesting things about the NASCAR races at Darlington is that they often use a different set of tracks to those that are normally found in the U.S. The infield at Darlington is perfectly normal; it is a typical oval with three lanes and a straightaway. What makes this track special is the fact that the outside lanes are actually a part of the racetrack! This is because the Indy Racing League (which is a rival organization to NASCAR) has adopted a “street course” philosophy. Essentially, this means that they are trying to emulate the great courses that you find in city streets, like Monaco, Laguna Seca, and others. The idea is to make the experience as real as possible!

Because of this, Indy cars frequently use the outside lanes to make sharp turns, just like you would on a street course. When an Indy car does use the infield, it tends to do so only when there is no other option. In order to give the illusion of a longer straightaway, Indy cars will frequently dart in and out of the inside and outside lanes. As you can imagine, this results in some pretty chaotic traffic patterns! You can find Indy cars at practically all of the NASCAR races, although they are more common at smaller venues like the grassroots level.

The Atmosphere At The Track

The atmosphere at the NASCAR races at Darlington is electric! You will frequently find a large number of people, both inside and outside, waving flags and chanting. This is especially the case at the Indy races at Darlington, where you will often see people cheering for both teams. In addition, the drivers are constantly engaged in fierce competition, which means they are pumping their engines and driving as fast as they can all the time! It is also important to note that the track has a large number of trees along the backstretch, which not only provide a pleasant atmosphere, but also serve a visual purpose, since they can be used to block out some of the overhead lighting. This helps reduce the number of crashes, because the drivers are less likely to run into the trees, which can cause severe damage to themselves and their cars.

The Food

You must have food trucks outside of the stadiums if you want to watch the game! The food at the NASCAR races at Darlington tends to be high-end restaurants and eateries, with a few fast food places trying to cash in on the action, too. Some of the more interesting eateries, which you might not find everywhere, include:

  • Benihana, which serves authentic Japanese cuisine. They even have a roller coaster in the shape of a racing car that you can go on before the start of the race!
  • Pier 39, which is a waterfront restaurant that overlooks Lake Ontario. If you are there during the summer, you get to enjoy live music and entertainment, as well as eat delicious food!
  • Papa John’s Pizza, which is located at the end of the backstretch. This is one of the places that you can get a delicious 12-inch pizza, just like you would get back home!
  • Osteria Morini, which serves authentic Italian cuisine. If you haven’t been there yet, you should try it! It is located on the infield and has a very distinctive Tuscan feel to it.

So, how is passing at Darlington? Is it as good as everyone says it is? Let’s find out!

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