Darlington, South Carolina is home to one of the most legendary race tracks in the world. Conceived back in 1909, the track still hosts some of the biggest motorsports events in the country. If you’re a car enthusiast or a sports fan, you may be familiar with the name Darlington. Most people know it as the site of the NASCAR Cup Series, but did you know that it also holds the records for the most wins in baseball and basketball history? Now is the time to make your pilgrimage to this Southern racing mecca. Keep reading for all the essential information you need to know about where to stay, what to eat, and how to get around. Use this guide as a starting point for your upcoming trip to Darlington. Let’s get to it.
What Is The History Of Darlington Speedway?
Darlington was first incorporated as a town in 1914. In the following years, it became a hub for motorsports activity. One of the town’s founding fathers, Arthur Reed, established the track itself in 1909. It was originally called Reed’s Speedway, but later changed its name to Darlington after Mr. Reed’s son. Mr. Reed was a prominent local real estate owner and developer. Due to his business acumen, Darlington grew to become a major center of commerce, with a population nearing 10,000 back in the early 20th century. Before you know it, the town was home to NASCAR superstitions as well :).
Over the years, the track expanded to three-and-a-half miles. In the 1950s, the layout was changed to its current state. A four-mile straightaway was added, as well as various other turns, pits, and other elements that make an authentic driving experience. These days, the entire town seems to revolve around the track. Tourists visit the place every year, eager to get a peek behind the scenes. The speedway is a living testament to the town’s tenacity and innovation. They may not have the best of public transportation, but at least they have a track!
How Do I Get To Darlington?
By road, it’s only a two-hour drive from Charlotte. The North Carolina highway system was designed with the automobile in mind. There are two major freeways that converge just north of the South Carolina border. Take the I-485 northbound to exit 22. Turn right onto Highway 80 eastbound and continue for 12.8 miles until you reach the stadium. Darlington is on the left, just beyond the railroad tracks. There is ample free parking available at the track as well as at a nearby hotel, the Riverside. If you’re looking to save money, park at the nearby municipal parking lot and take the shuttle bus to the stadium. The ride will cost you only $1.25, and you can use it to get directly to the gates for the grandstands. The best views of the entire track are from the top of these grandstands. They run along the entire backstretch, and offer an amazing panoramic view of the entire racing surface. You can get autographs and have your picture taken with living legends from behind the wheel of a car. This is a popular tourist attraction, so get there early to get your seats. The best time to visit is between April and October, as the weather is nice and the crowds are smaller. The atmosphere is something else though, especially when you’re in the middle of a thunderstorm. You’ll feel like you’re part of the action even if you’re not directly involved.
What Should I Bring With Me To Darlington?
Besides your ticket to the game, you’ll need to prepare yourself for the humid climate of the South. Bring plenty of water and sunblock. The temperature at this time of year is still relatively mild. You’ll be pleased to know that even in October, the average high temperature is only 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The air is still fresh, and feels good on your skin. The trade winds that blow in from the northeast keep things cool and clean. If you plan to visit the track in the summer, bring light clothing. The air feels good and is fresh, but you’ll want to avoid shorts and T-shirts if you’re looking to keep cool. In summer, a long-sleeved cotton shirt and a lightweight cotton or linen suit will make you feel both comfortable and stylish. In winter, a fleece pullover and athletic boots or shoes are recommended. You’ll also need warm clothes for the winter. In case of extreme temperatures, you may also need additional clothing items, depending on where you are going and how you are getting around. If you are planning to visit the more rural areas of the town or the countryside, you may need some extra layers. Check the weather reports before you go, so you don’t have to rush to buy additional sweaters and jackets. You will also need rain gear and snow gear, depending on where you are going and what the climate is like. If you are new to cold weather, give these items some extra thought. They will make you feel more at home and comfortable, even if it’s only for a day or two.
What Is The Layout Of Darlington Speedway?
Nashville, Tennessee’s Fairgrounds Stadium is perhaps the finest track layout in existence. It is an accurate reproduction of a genuine racetrack, down to the last detail. If you ever wanted to visit NASCAR’s version of heaven, you’ll find it at Darlington. The overall shape of the track is an egg-timer, with three distinct sections: the straightaways, the turns, and the backstretch. Like at Nashville, there are seats and grandstands along the entire backstretch. This allows for extensive coverage, and amazing views of the entire track. These are the same seats where you’ll find many living legends. Fans line up all day long, hoping to get their hands on a single, limited edition t-shirt or button. If you visit the track during the off-season, you’ll notice many empty seats. This is one of the things that make Darlington so special. When the racing season is over, the track mostly stays open as an ongoing exhibition. There are always cars and drivers around, albeit usually in retirement. The track is still a place of magic, and you might feel a bit of that magic yourself.
What Amenities Does Darlington Offer?
Besides the track itself, there are numerous other amenities that make the destination interesting. You’ll find a variety of shops and restaurants in the town. There are also several historical sites that you can visit. The most prominent of these is Maplewood Farm. This site operated as a working hunch from 1902 until the late 1960s. While you are there, you can take a ride on a tractor-driven ferris wheel that served as a coal cart. It was a common sight to see cars and trucks driven by farmers in those days. Even more interesting are the buildings that have been preserved from that era. There is also a large indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a tennis facility, an 18-hole golf course, and more. The community center also houses a bowling alley and an indoor ice-skating rink. If you’re a fan of the performing arts, you can find the Civic Center Theater, which is host to both local and national touring companies. If you’re a movie buff, you’ll want to see the beautiful and historic Odeon. It’s the former home of talkies and early soundtracks. If you’re a fan of classic cars, you’ll have to visit the International Center. It is the world’s foremost collection of classic automobiles. You’ll have to make a special trip all the way down to the center, in the southern part of the town. You’ll recognize the building from its distinctive blue paint job. It was designed by NASCAR legend Bill France Sr., who also designed Daytona Beach International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. If you’re a foodie, you’ll want to visit the North Carolina Aquarium. It’s located in the southern suburbs of the town. It features a variety of water-related animals, including a shark reef tank. You can feed the fishes and tropical birds, or just walk amongst the animals. The building itself is shaped like a lobster, and it’s difficult to miss when you’re driving down Interstate 85.
When Does The Racing Season Begin At Darlington?
You’ll have to be fast to catch up with the latest news concerning the start of the NASCAR racing season. The season typically starts in the spring, and it always ends in the fall. However, things do happen in NASCAR that defy the norm. We’ll never know when or where an event may occur, but it is always a few weeks before the season begins and after it ends.