Darlington tickets part of Smithsonian collection

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Photo: Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning with a set of original tickets from all three races run at Darlington in 1950. The tickets were a gift from the Fayetteville Christian School in Fayetteville, NC. A matching set resides in the Smithsonian Institution's American History collection. The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum was the recipient of a valuable addition to its memorabilia collection on Wednesday, January 11.

Fayetteville Christian School presented Raceway president Chris Browning with a complete set of original tickets from all three races run in Darlington during the track's 1950 inaugural season, including an AMA motorcycle race, a "Big Car" (later Indy car) race, and the legendary Southern 500 stock car event. More than 100 FCS middle-schoolers attended the press conference, prompting Browning to remark that the day represented a textbook blending of racing's past and its future.

"It is so gratifying to look around the museum today and see what a valuable role Darlington Raceway has played, and will continue to play, in the evolution of NASCAR," he said. A matching set of Darlington Raceway tickets was presented to the Smithsonian Institution in the fall of 2005, where they reside as part of the museum's American History collection.

Curator Ellen Hughes said the Smithsonian was thrilled to receive what she described as "valuable memorabilia from a sport that has grown from southern heritage to widespread national prominence." The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum and NMPA Hall of Fame are open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. The 2006 Dodge Charger 500, coming up on Saturday evening, May 13, will once again be run under the lights in its entirety. Greg Biffle is the defending champion. Friday, May 12 will feature a full day of race action, including practice and qualifying for both the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

The NASCAR Busch Series drivers will follow up their qualifying efforts on Friday evening in the Diamond Hill Plywood 200. Matt Kenseth is the defending champion. Tickets for all events are on sale now. For tickets or more information, contact the Raceway ticket hotline toll-free at 866.459.RACE, or visit racetickets.com.

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