Saturday, May 10, 2008

There is just a lot to love about Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. - They say it's always 5 o'clock somewhere. Right now, it's 5 at Darlington Raceway. In a little more than two hours, they'll turn 43 cars loose on this glorious old race track. It looks like we'll have us another one of those spectacular sunsets that we've had a couple of times here since they've moved this race to Mother's Day weekend and then we'll have us a heck of a race - I hope.

The new pavement here is something they had to do, but based on what I've seen and heard so far this weekend tonight's race just isn't going to be what we've come to expect at Darlington.

The track's black, and that just doesn't seem right. In a few years, I reckon, the sand in the soil down this way will blast it gray again and cars will sliding all over the place like it seems like they always have here.

But I'm of the mind that a bad race at Darlington, if that's what we wind up having, is at least as good as a good race at a lot of other places.

They've been running here since 1950 and I hope they run here another 60 years or so, at least.

It's a crime they moved Darlington off Labor Day weekend, but I suppose the way things have turned out aren't too bad. They've sold the grandstands out for the fourth straight time, and in this economy that's a nice thing to have accomplished.

I am sitting in the press box that overlooks Turn 3. It's ridiculous that the press box is still on the other side of the track from pit road and the start-finish line - the TV booth is over there where it needs to be - but I know I won't get much traction with fans complaining about what the media need to be able to do the job.

The infield in front of me looks fairly well packed, which is a pleasant surprise given how much it must cost these days to fill up the tank in an RV. They've built a new tunnel that runs right through the parking area that used to be right in front of us, which is a shame because there's no longer room in there for race fans to start up the touch football game that usually devolves into a big ol' brawl right before our eyes. I guess you can't protect all the traditions.

I love this place. It's not the nicest track, in terms of fan amenities, that I go to. But they've done a pretty good job of making it at least passibly modern in the past few years. Every track doesn't need to be slick as a whistle, does it?

This is a great place to watch drivers try to race, even if they race this tough ol' track a lot more than they do each other. You have to be good, the way I see it, to win a race here. That ought to be the measure of a track, at least to some degree, and on that score Darlington is right up there.

Enjoy the race.


Anonymous said...

Poole - "I am sitting in the press box that overlooks Turn 3. It's ridiculous that the press box is still on the other side of the track from pit road and the start-finish line."

It could be worse David, much worse.

It could be 1966 with you inches away from Earl Balmer losing control, climbing the guardrail and just missing by a whisker of falling outside the track and collapsing the press-box supports.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave, wish I was back in Carolina. Watched the cup and NNS on TV, the NNS was the better race. The cup race was for the most part boring, not the usual type of racing we have seen at Darlington in the past. I don't know whether it was the improvements to the track or the "improvements" to the car but I came away lacking. At least it wasn't in California

Monkeesfan said...

Anonymous #2, it was both - the track is way too fast (150 MPH is enough for that place, not 175+), and the COT is a flat failure. "At least it wasn't California." California at least had some good racing; from what I saw at Darlington I don't know how they got 35 lead changes (according to MRN, anyway) out of this race.

Anonymous said...

Last year's Bristol race, the first one after the track was reworked, was horrible. After sitting for a few months, it came around to be a great track again. Fear not, race fans, the same thing will happen to Darlington and it will become a great track again.

To Nascar, for the dumbest thing they ever did, killing the Southern 500: Boo!

Anonymous said...

Monkeesfan needs to learn a new note. I hit this site only occasionally, but this guy never gets off the COT. Get over it and enjoy the racing. Just think, you could be a Dolphin or a Pirate fan. Then you WOULD have something to complain about.

Monkeesfan said...

Anonymous #5, it's hard to enjoy the racing when the COT is a big part of the problem of why the racing is not competitive.

BTW, which Pirates are you referring to? I saw the Portland Pirates knock the Providence Bruins out of the AHL playoffs last Friday and I won't be getting over that loss for awhile.

Anonymous said...

passibly? Really? Are you kidding me Poole?
Looks like you need an editor for your blog.