Kerry Tharp

Darlington Raceway
Darlington Raceway

Darlington Raceway unveils theme for 2020 Throwback Weekend

Leave a comment

Darlington Raceway on Wednesday announced the theme for its annual throwback weekend, Sept. 4-6, 2020.

The “Track Too Tough To Tame” will be “Celebrating NASCAR’s Champions … Past, Present and Future” and will recognize NASCAR champions in both the Cup and Xfinity Series during the weekend.

The three days will culminate in the opening race of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, the legendary Southern 500, on Sept. 6.

“When you look back at the history of the sport and all the champions that have won our great championship and all those drivers that have won at Darlington, there’s almost 20 drivers that were champions in the same year that they won one or more races at Darlington,” track president Kerry Tharp said Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”

Tharp continued, “I think this gives teams a real opportunity to honor champions, whether it’s paint schemes or something on their car that honors champions of our sport. … We really thought this was the way to go and allows us to celebrate the past, celebrate the present and oh by the way, that first race in the playoffs at Darlington will be the first step towards the 2020 champion.”

This will be the sixth consecutive year that Darlington has held its award-winning throwback weekend, and also marks the 71st running of the Southern 500. The Xfinity Series will also host the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200.

“There is so much history and correlation between NASCAR champions and Darlington race winners that this Throwback theme makes our 2020 event that much more special for our fans, teams, partners and stakeholders,” Tharp said.

The NASCAR Cup Series has seen 33 different drivers capture 71 total championships since the series began in 1949. Drivers with multiple championships include Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson (all with seven championships apiece); Jeff Gordon (4); Lee Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip and Tony Stewart (all with three championships apiece); Buck Baker, Joe Weatherly, Ned Jarrett, Terry Labonte and Kyle Busch (all with two championships apiece), and 17 other drivers have won one championship each.

In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, 29 different drivers have won the championship since the series began in 1982: Jack Ingram, Sam Ard, Larry Pearson, Randy LaJoie, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Tyler Reddick have all won two Xfinity championships apiece. There have been 20 other drivers who have won one championship each.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

 

Bojangles’ ends sponsorship of Southern 500

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The fast food chain Bojangles’ will no longer sponsor the Southern 500.

Bojangles’ has sponsored the event at Darlington Raceway since 2012.

Since 2015, the Southern 500 has been the site of NASCAR’s Throwback Weekend, with Cup and Xfinity Series teams fielding retro paint schemes celebrating the sport’s history.

DarlingtonRaceway.com

“We’ve enjoyed a terrific relationship with Bojangles’ since 2012 and we look forward to their continued involvement in NASCAR for many years to come,” track president Kerry Tharp said in a statement. “Like Darlington, they are truly an authentic Southern brand.”

A logo for the race on Darlington’s website does not include a sponsor.

“Bojangles’ has enjoyed a long and successful partnership with the team at Darlington Raceway,” Bojangles’ said in a statement provided to NBC’s Myrtle Beach-affiliate WMBF. “While we will no longer be the title sponsor for the Southern 500, NASCAR remains an important part of our sports marketing strategy, and we look forward to announcing our plans for 2020 in the near future.”

The 2020 Southern 500 is scheduled for Sept. 6 on NBCSN.

Darlington Raceway to honor Dale Earnhardt Sr. on Sept. 2

Allsport /Allsport
2 Comments

Darlington Raceway will pay tribute to Dale Earnhardt Sr. and the 30th anniversary of his 1987 Southern 500 win in a special tribute: An Evening Honoring Dale Earnhardt Sr.

The event will be held Sept. 2., the night before the Southern 500.

The event will feature a panel sharing stories about the seven-time champion. The panel will include Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Kerry Earnhardt and car owner Richard Childress.

An Evening Honoring Dale Earnhardt Sr. will take place in the driver’s meeting tent in the Cup garage from 7:30 – 9 p.m. ET, following the conclusion of the Southern 500 parade. NBC broadcaster Rick Allen will emcee the event.

Tickets are $87, which includes two beverage coupons, light hors d’oeuvres and a 1:24 scale Dale Earnhardt Jr. throwback No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS diecast. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.DarlingtonRaceway.com or calling 843-395-8802. A grandstand ticket or infield admission to Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 is required for purchase.

“We are extremely grateful to Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Kerry Earnhardt and Richard Childress for supporting this tribute event and sharing Dale Earnhardt Sr. stories for our fans and industry stakeholders that will be in attendance,” Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp said in a statement. “We look forward to honoring one of NASCAR’s most popular champions and Hall of Fame members. Dale Earnhardt Sr. had a fondness for Darlington Raceway, so it’s only fitting that one of the most intimidating tracks on the circuit would host an event recognizing ‘The Intimidator.’ ”

Earnhardt won nine Cup races at Darlington, second only to David Pearson’s 10 career victories there. Earnhardt also won three Xfinity races there.

The tribute to Earnhardt is a part of Darlington Raceway’s throwback weekend, which celebrates the 1985-89 era.

 and on Facebook

Darlington Raceway to celebrate 1985-89 period at Southern 500

Darlington Raceway
1 Comment

It was the time of “Back to the Future,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and the first “Lethal Weapon” movie and featured soundtracks provided by Madonna, Robert Palmer and Guns N’ Roses.

Yes, the 1980s are back.

At least that time period – from 1985-89 – will be the theme for Darlington Raceway during its Southern 500 weekend Sept. 1-3.

In NASCAR, that era included championships won by Darrell Waltrip (1985), Dale Earnhardt (1986-87), Bill Elliot (1988) and Rusty Wallace (1989).

“As we enter the third year of our throwback campaign, we’ll be focusing on drivers, personalities and moments that were compelling in that timeframe, such as the emergence of Dale Earnhardt Sr., Bill Elliott winning the first Winston Million, and the growth of the NASCAR Xfinity Series (formerly the Busch Grand National Series),” Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp said in a statement. “It will be an exciting era for the track and industry to celebrate.”

The track also announced a commemorative ticket that features Dale Earnhardt Sr., who won the 1987 Southern 500 and last year’s winner, Martin Truex Jr.

 and on Facebook

Darlington Raceway names Kerry Tharp as track president

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
1 Comment

Darlington Raceway announced Wednesday that Kerry Tharp will be the track’s president effective July 18.

Tharp succeeds Chip Wile, who left to become president at Daytona International Speedway in April, taking over for Joie Chitwood.

Tharp has been with NASCAR’s communications department since April 2005.

“These are exciting times for Darlington Raceway and Kerry Tharp is the perfect person to lead one of the most historic tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit,” said Chitwood, International Speedway Corp. Executive Vice President and COO, in a statement. “His appreciation of our sport, knowledge of the industry and passion for South Carolina are unmatched. Kerry will do a great job leading the Darlington Raceway team and continuing to build upon their celebrated throwback marketing campaign.”

Said Tharp in a statement: “I am deeply humbled and honored to have this opportunity. I love the state of South Carolina and its people. I know how special Darlington Raceway is to this state and to the sport of NASCAR. The track’s rich tradition, history, and popularity resonate with the competitors, partners, media and most importantly the fans. I look forward to working with our team to help keep Darlington as one of our sport’s crown jewels.”

Tharp, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, has been a South Carolina resident for more than 30 years. Before joining NASCAR, Tharp worked in the media relations department at the University of South Carolina from 1985-2005. He spent two years at the University of Tennessee and four years at the University of Oklahoma prior to going to the University of South Carolina.

The Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway will be Sept. 4 and broadcast on NBC.