Is It Raining At Darlington Speedway? [Fact Checked!]

The season of racing is upon us, which means that it’s time for football-stool-shaped cars and hot chocolate.

This week sees some of the biggest events of the year, with the British Grand Prix and the Indy 500 both taking place at famous English thoroughfares. At this rate, we’re in for a treat—this week actually promises to be an incredible race week!

But before the season of racing begins, let’s take a quick trip to North Carolina, USA, to see what’s happening at Darlington Speedway for the Labor Day weekend.

The History Of Darlington

Darlington is one of the oldest motorsport venues still in existence, having been founded in 1909. One of NASCAR‘s largest stages, the 3/8-mile track hosted its first race in 1914 and World War II halted the sport’s growth. After the war, the tracks were purchased by Jack Arute and the racing scene started to boom, welcoming such famous names as Richard Petty and Andy Griffith as well as more modern-day superstitions such as Bill Elliott and Junior Johnson.

Things haven’t looked the same since the early 1970s though, with the tracks going through a period of decline until NASCAR brought the Save the Darlington organization together in the early 2000s. This group worked tirelessly to promote the venue as a motorsport mecca, helping to attract the Indianapolis 500 as well as some of the biggest European names in racing to the track. The organization was also behind the scenes at other venues, helping to keep motorsport alive during a time of economic uncertainty. Now, with the economy looking up and more people interested in racing again, it’s time for Darlington to prove that it’s something more than just a motorsport venue—it’s a place where great racing is being enjoyed by all!

The 2017 Season Review: A Grand Total Of 28 Races

The start of the season saw the Indianapolis 500 go ahead as planned, with Sunday’s race being delayed a day due to Monday’s tragic events. While some may have been devastated that the greatest sporting event of the year was put on hold, it undoubtedly led to the season becoming even more exciting. With fewer races to focus on, fans had more time to savor each moment and build up the anticipation for the big events.

The first race after the Indianapolis 500 was the Clash at the Cookout, another hugely anticipated event, with fans lining the streets in anticipation of the start. After 14 years of planning and delay, the event went ahead without incident, with speeds reaching over 170 MPH and a battle for the lead lasting all the way to the checkered flag. The event was won by Max Papis, running a Max Papis Racing machine.

The next race was the Firecracker 400, which was run a couple of weeks later in a scenic display near the Great Smoky Mountains. The biggest event of the month was the 61st annual Great Labor Day Classic, with over 30,000 in attendance and more than $2 million in prize money on the line. The traditional bluegrass festival took place over the course of the three-day event, with the final running of the amazing Gold Rush Marathon, an unofficial “endurance race” that is as much a part of the event as the music and comedy are. The marathon is named after the colorful costumes its participants wear—mostly gold, with some wearing even more color—and was first held as part of the 1964 World’s Fair in Seattle. Since then, it’s become an annual tradition and is arguably the most historic marathon in North Carolina, if not all of NASCAR.

The Future Of Darlington

While some may say that 2017 was a rebuilding year for Darlington, it was in fact the opposite. The venue built on trust after a decade of hard work, with the first race taking place last month and more to come in the near future.

The upcoming races include the Nascar Hall of Fame ceremony (the Charlotte Hornets will also be holding a tailgate party for the occasion) and the Doak Walker Travellin’ Trout Fishing Tournament, named after the famous NASCAR driver. The races themselves are always a spectacle, attracting thousands of viewers, but this year’s events will be especially meaningful to NASCAR fans. Not only is the Doak Walker event the annual tribute to the legendary driver, but it is also the last hurrah for crew chief Mike Beam, who has been with the organization since 1974. Mike will retire after this year’s race, having run the entire 2017 season with just one change—from the windshield wipers to the radio station. No wonder then, that this year’s Doak Walker race will be special.

Weather At Darlington In 2017

The season opener was held in pleasant temperatures, with the occasional afternoon shower, so fans could enjoy the racing without a worry. While the track was prepared for the Indy 500, Mother Nature had other plans and the race was postponed until Wednesday.

The next event, the Clash at the Cookout, was also affected by the weather. The temperature at the time of the scheduled race was in the high 70s, with a heat index of over 80 degrees—more than enough energy to make the cars go flat out. Naturally, the organizers decided to move the date to the afternoon, so that the ambient temperature would be more acclimatized for the higher speeds, but the conditions remained the same. It was a wise move, as the spectators at the track were able to watch the cars go around in high speed circles for several hours, before the race was eventually red flagged and postponed until the following day. The eventual winner was Johnny Klausmeier in his No. 16 Zip Car Insurance truck.

The rest of the season saw an incredible variety of weather, from blistering heat to sudden heavy downpours of rain. However, this did not keep the fans away—indeed, quite the opposite. The two biggest events, the British Grand Prix and the Indy 500, were run in some of the most stunning weather conditions possible, with blue skies and temperatures in the 50s acting as perfect backdrops for the high-speed action. The sport truly is a summer sport and fans seem to have embraced it, with the standing room only tickets for the British Grand Prix selling out well before the race even began. Naturally, the fans lined the streets to get a glimpse of the action, with many purchasing expensive I.D. cards so they could get privileged access to the venue. The Indianapolis 500 also saw a similar trend, with many fans standing in line for over four hours, just to get a spot from which to witness the start of what many consider to be the greatest sporting event of the year. Naturally, they were not disappointed, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and the Williams sisters all taking part in the historic race. The 500 also marked the start of the international roadtrip race series, the Intercontinental Cup, which visits some of the most iconic venues in the United States. The first race of the season was won by Alexander Rossi in his No. 27 Andretti Autosport car. The second race, the Nascar Grand Prix, was won by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., in what was arguably one of the best all-around performances of the year. Naturally, this being NASCAR, the cars were mostly red, white and blue, with a few other random paint jobs thrown in, just to mix things up. The highlight of the week, the Doak Walker Classic, was also the rain-soaked equivalent—a fitting end to what was certainly the wettest year in recent memory. The three-day festival was won by Chase Elliott in his No. 9 Chevrolet. The final race of the year was held on a rainy night, with the temperature fittingly sitting in the low 40s, ensuring nobody was freezing and ruining any sort of fun. The standing area outside of the track was also turned into a skating rink, allowing fans to enjoy the last bits of summer weather before the long winter set in. Naturally, it was an emotional farewell to the 2017 season, with many fans showing their love for the sport and the team in a moving moment of appreciation. The final race of the season will also serve as the series finale for the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, Chris Bonham, who succumbed to cancer earlier this year. The 51-year-old had been preparing for his final race for some time and had made sure that his family and friends knew just how much it meant to him. He will be missed.

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