Darlington Raceway is a race track built for NASCAR racing located near Darlington, South Carolina. It is nicknamed "The Lady in Black" and "The Track Too Tough to Tame" by many NASCAR fans and drivers and advertised as "A NASCAR Tradition." It is of a unique, somewhat egg-shaped design, an oval with the ends of very different configurations, a condition which supposedly arose from the proximity of one end of the track to a minnow pond the owner refused to relocate. This situation makes it very challenging for the crews to set up their cars' handling in a way that will be effective at both ends.
For many years Darlington was the site of two annual Sprint Cup Series races; one, the Rebel 400, was held in the spring and the other, the Southern 500, was always held on Labor Day weekend. In 2003, the Labor Day event was given to California Speedway, and the Southern 500 was moved to November 2004 and was run as part of the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup. In 2005, NASCAR eliminated the Southern 500 altogether, offending many traditionalists. The race was merged into the 400-mile (640 km) spring race, and moved to Mother's Day Weekend. A 500-mile race named after a Dodge vehicle was held for the next four years, before the race was given the Southern 500 moniker in 2009.
The move was the result of several factors. Darlington suffered from poor ticket sales, particularly in the spring. Part of this is due to the track's location in the Textile Belt of South Carolina, where there has been an ongoing general economic decline for many years. Additionally, there is very little of interest to the average fan from outside the Darlington area other than the events at the track itself. Many newer NASCAR venues are near major cities to avoid this problem. A further factor in the move was an ongoing desire by NASCAR to spread its events out over more of the country.
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
- Showtime Southern 500
- NASCAR Nationwide Series
- VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200
- USAC Silver Crown Series
- Silver Crown Showdown at Darlington
- NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
- Too Tough To Tame 200
- Surface: Asphalt
- Length: 1.366 mi (2.198 km)
- Turns: 4
- Turns 1 & 2: 25°
- Turns 3 & 4: 23°
- Front Straight: 3°
- Back Straight: 2°
27.131 sec. (181.250 mph) (Kasey Kahne, Red Bull Racing, May 6, 2011, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series)