Family Travel 2011

Megan Sexton



See the history of NASCAR at Darlington museum

Posted 11/3/2010 1:27:00 PM

It might seem as if college football is the only game in town in the South, but it’s not the only sports king.

Don’t forget NASCAR.

For rabid fans or curious onlookers, a good place to learn more about the sport is the Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum.

Located in the heart of South Carolina’s Pee Dee region (just off Interstate 95, about 65 miles from Columbia and about 85 miles from Myrtle Beach) visitors can find old and modern cars, along with a history of the sport and the track dubbed “too tough to tame.”

The museum underwent a major renovation and expansion project in 2003. It is home to such classics as the 1950 Plymouth Johnny Mantz drove to Victory Lane in the very first Mountain Dew Southern 500, the 1956 Ford convertible that won 22 races in a single year racing in the convertible series, plus three more races that same year with the top welded on (including the Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington).

There is also No. 43, the 1967 Plymouth of Richard Petty, a car that won 10 races that year, plus Darrell Waltrip's 1991 Chevy Lumina, which rolled eight times in the 1991 Pepsi 400 in one of the roughest crashes in stock car history. (Waltrip walked away from the wreck.)

In the rear of the building visitors can find the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame, filled with photos, memorabilia and interactive exhibits showcasing the sport and personalities of NASCAR racing. There you can also find the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s handprints, preserved in concrete. Earnhardt was a nine-time champion at the Darlington track, second only to David Pearson on the all-time win list.

The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum, NMPA Hall of Fame and Darlington Raceway gift shop are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays. Museum admission is $5 for adults, and free for kids under 12.

The museum is adjacent to the track, at 1301 Harry Byrd Hwy., Darlington.