Darlington Raceway Founder Harold Brasington Was a True Pioneer for NASCAR

May 25, 2015

Landmark Award recipient will be honored for his contributions to the sport during the 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremonies


DARLINGTON, SC – Harold Brasington, the man who built Darlington Raceway in 1949-50, was honored by his peers on Tuesday, May 20, by being named the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR recipient.

Brasington will be honored during the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on January 22, 2016.

“Harold Brasington is very deserving of the Landmark Award,” Darlington Raceway President Chip Wile said. “He is one of the great visionaries of the sport, not just for the building of Darlington, but also for his countless contributions to building other race tracks and helping raise NASCAR to another level with the crowds his facilities attracted. He is a true pioneer and it is fantastic to see his accomplishments being acknowledged.”

Brasington’s dream of building a track began after attending the Indianapolis 500 in the 1930’s. He returned with the vision of building a paved racetrack in his hometown of Darlington, S.C. but was delayed by financial constraints and World War II in the mid-1940’s. Brasington finally got the break he needed to begin his dream project in a very unlikely manner.

It was because of a simple conversation during a poker game between Brasington and J.S. (Sherman) Ramsey that the racetrack stands where it is today.

Jim Hunter’s ‘50th Anniversary of Darlington Raceway’ book (©1999, UMI Publications) states that towards the end of that poker game on Sept. 4, 1948, Brasington asked Ramsey about using some of his property to build his racetrack on, and with Ramsey paying most of his attention to the poker game said, “Sure,” then added, “Now deal the cards!”

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Soon after, Ramsey returned from an out-of-state trip to see Brasington’s earthmovers, bulldozers and dump trucks moving dirt to make way for his track. Brasington had taken their poker game conversation more seriously than Ramsey realized. The track would take shape in 1949 and eventually host the first Southern 500 on Labor Day in 1950 featuring 75 cars in the starting field.

Following the construction of Darlington Raceway, Brasington went on to build Rockingham Speedway (then North Carolina Motor Speedway) in 1965 as well as several other tracks in the South. He was also Curtis Turner’s original partner when Charlotte Motor Speedway was conceived in 1960, before selling his interest to Bruton Smith prior to construction beginning.

“Harold’s bold construction of Darlington in 1950 ushered in the superspeedway era and was the catalyst that solidified NASCAR’s early future,” Richard Petty, NASCAR Hall of Famer and one of the sport’s most recognizable figures said. “Harold was an early pillar of racing and his many contributions and accomplishments deserve to be remembered.”

Now, 66 years after building Darlington Raceway, Brasington’s original creation, Darlington Raceway, will see the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series return to Labor Day weekend on Sept. 4-6, 2015.

As the Tradition Returns it is only fitting that Labor Day weekend racing is back at Darlington, a place that celebrated NASCAR racing for decades after Brasington’s grand idea came to fruition in 1950.

The Tradition Returns to Labor Day weekend as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500® is set for Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015. The NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 will race onSaturday, Sept. 5. Tickets are on sale now by calling 866-459-7223 or visiting www.DarlingtonRaceway.com.

You can keep up with all of the latest news from Darlington Raceway at DarlingtonRaceway.com, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DarlingtonRaceway and on Twitter at Twitter.com/TooToughToTame. Fans are encouraged to post their Bojangles’ Southern 500 stories and memories at #TraditionReturns, #BojanglesSo500 and #SportClips200.