DARLINGTON, S.C. — For the first time since 2004, Darlington Raceway has two scheduled NASCAR race weekends (Darlington's Xfinity race and two Cup events last May were part of NASCAR’s midseason revised schedule on account of the pandemic). With that in mind, tickets for this year’s spring events (May 7-9) went on sale to the general public Wednesday.
The spring weekend will include the Camping World Truck Series at 7:30 p.m. on May 7, Xfinity Series at 1 p.m. May 8, and a Cup Series event May 9 (Mother’s Day) at 3:30 p.m. This is now the official throwback weekend of NASCAR. Fans can order tickets on www.darlingtonraceway.com, or by calling (843) 459-7223.
That confirms Darlington’s plans to host fans. How many? That’s uncertain, for now.
“Certainly, we believe we will have fans here at the races in May,” Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp said. “It has always been good to work with the state leadership, Gov. (Henry) McMaster and the Department of Commerce. And, we look forward to working with them again.
“We have already begun lines of communication with them,” he added. “I don’t know the exact number of fans we can have for the May race weekend. But we should probably know later on in the next couple of months to come.”
This past September, no fans were allowed in the Darlington infield, and there was no infield camping.
“That still has to be determined,” Tharp said, in reference to May. “First and foremost, we’ve got to protect the integrity of the infield for our competitors. And NASCAR has done a terrific job of that. We’re exploring possible options that can happen for the May weekend. We just haven’t gotten to a place where we’re able to determine what that’s going to look like. Certainly, we would hope we can have some folks in the infield. But it’s too early to tell.”
In September, RV camping was allowed at the Petty and Pearson Boulevard RV sites.
Those also wanting to buy tickets for the Southern 500 weekend (Sept. 4-5) at the same time can do so.
“If you do that, you would become what we call a ‘Darlington Stripe Club’ member,” Tharp said. “It would give you 30% off the regular-purchased price for the tickets, and you would get other exclusive offerings, like a gift and access to events exclusive only to them. Also, they would get special pricing on scanner rentals.”
The Sept. 5 Southern 500 will kick-start NASCAR’s 10-race playoffs for the second consecutive year. But for the first time since 2015, it won’t be a throwback weekend.
“We felt that having the Southern 500 lead the playoffs was a big-enough story as it was, on its own,” Tharp said. “So we felt like the best thing to do was give the throwback weekend it’s proper due. Moving it to May would be the best idea. So we’re looking forward to that, and the teams are excited about that. We have meetings coming up with the teams next week to start talking about that.”
There are no title sponsors for any of the three spring races, yet. And the search is still on to find a sponsor for this year’s Southern 500. A fast-food chain, Cook Out, had a one-year deal for this past September’s Southern 500, and Tharp said last year it has exclusive right to negotiate again to extend that deal.
On Wednesday, Tharp said Cook Out is still in the running.
“We’re still working on that,” Tharp said. “Cook Out was a terrific partner for us last year. We’re very, very pleased with them, and with what they were able to do in a relatively short turnaround. We’ve had some very, very serious discussions with them again. And we’re very, very hopeful they will return again as the title sponsor for the Southern 500.”