Wile talks Southern 500 future and past

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

Darlington Raceway president Chip Wile spoke at the Aug. 20 meeting of the Darlington Kiwanis Club and gave guests a preview of the upcoming Bojangles Southern 500, including new “low downforce” setups and tire technology sure to challenge NASCAR’s top drivers.

Wile also talked about ongoing efforts to integrate the track into the community as a venue for non-racing events ranging from Independence Day celebrations to charity walkathons.

“Let’s face it, Darlington County is Darlington Raceway…so it’s really important to all of us that work at the racetrack to be a community leader,” Wile said, noting that in the past couple of years, Darlington Raceway has hosted over thirty community events.

He also spoke of an uptick in optimism among track staffers and the community at large, partly spurred by the return of Labor Day weekend racing. Wile said that one of the greatest moments of his two-year tenure was announcing that Darlington’s NASCAR date would shift from spring to its old Sep. 5 stomping grounds.

Wile observed that NASCAR fans nationwide also seemed happy about the date switch, since Darlington Raceway evokes memories of hard racing action and stock car nostalgia.

“It’s tradition; it’s the Wrigley Field of NASCAR,” said Wile

Capitalizing on racing’s treasure trove of memories, the Bojangles Southern 500 will feature 30 Sprint Cup cars sporting old-school livery.

“The #2 car (driven by Brad Keselowski) is doing a tribute to Bobby Allison, the #4 car (driven by current Sprint Cup Series leader Kevin Harvick) is doing a tribute to the first Budweiser can ever created – it’s a gold can,” said Wile.

Ticket sales are going well, with suites sold out since May and camping spots sold out since early August, but Wile encouraged everyone to help make this year’s race a sellout.

“We need to send a strong signal to NASCAR and the rest of the community that allowing us to have this date back was the right move,” said Wile.

See more of Wile’s talk here:

Author: Samantha Lyles

Staff writer for Darlington News and Press

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