Darlington’s Goodson Family Helps FDTC Reach Its Students
By Hunter Thomas, Special to the News and Press
Auto racing’s deep roots in the Pee Dee region has given Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC) an edge in reaching its students each semester.
In 2015, FDTC reached out to Darlington native and former NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Hal Goodson about sponsoring his No. 13 Super Truck that competed around the region and the No. 16 Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model that ran in select races throughout the Carolinas. The idea behind the partnership is to support the local racing culture and to also reach out to students in the region who may be interested in taking automotive or welding classes at the college. As for the result of the unique marketing campaign, the Super Truck that serves as a 110-plus mph billboard has since proven to be an incredible success.
“The Goodson family has done a wonderful job representing Florence-Darlington Technical College at the racetrack throughout the past few years,” said FDTC President Dr. Ben Dillard. “Not only are they helping spread the word about the college, but they are winning while doing so. Many former, current and hopefully future students attend local races on a weekly basis, so we’re definitely excited to play a role in the local racing community.”
The first outing for the partnership with Goodson resulted in a victory at Myrtle Beach Speedway in the Super Truck feature that kicked off the 2015 season. Later in the year, Goodson won multiple races, and he captured the regional Super Truck championship. What made the dominating season even more special was that after several decades of racing, Goodson hung up the helmet and handed over the steering wheel to his son, Hayes Goodson.
Hayes is a third-generation driver and a former student at FDTC. He took summer classes at the college just prior to climbing behind the wheel for the 2016 racing season. He had found success in several divisions prior to the year, but the 2016 season marked his first full effort while driving a Super Truck. Goodson, following in the footsteps of his father, also captured several victories throughout the season; however, he came up just short of the championship. So far this season, Goodson has added even more victories to his all-time wins list, and he’s in the championship hunt at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Aside from the on-track action, partnering with the Goodson family’s race team has proven to be an incredible marketing tool for the college. The partnership has provided the most exposure for the college since the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology (SiMT) opened its doors in 2007.
From newspaper articles and television features, to being displayed in front of thousands of people, the black and gold Super Truck has developed a brand of its own and has become a recognizable vehicle in the Carolina racing community thanks to the Goodsons’ talent on the track over the years.