In 2005, Mother's Day weekend gave birth to a new tradition at NASCAR's most historic track. Collectively serving as grand marshal for the Dodge Charger 500 was a group of women well accustomed to giving commands to NEXTEL Cup Series drivers - their moms.
The participating mothers walked across the stage and were introduced to the fans along with their sons. Then, as a group, they uttered the most famous words in motorsports, with a bit of a twist - "Sons and gentleman, start your engines!"
The inclusion of the drivers' mothers in pre-race activities proved to be so popular with fans that the track decided to make their participation an annual event, in honor of Mother's Day.
"Mother's Day weekend is a time to celebrate families," said Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning. "NASCAR is frequently described as a family sport, so it just seems natural to include everyone and to create one very special weekend at Darlington Raceway. We are excited about continuing to make the Mother's Day event at Darlington a marquee weekend, and one of the most popular stops on the circuit."
The list of mothers who will serve as grand marshals for the Dodge Charger 500 includes: Carol Bickford (Jeff Gordon); Brenda Jackson (Dale Earnhardt Jr.); Ramona Vickers (Brian Vickers); Becky Sorenson (Reed Sorenson); Martha Labonte (Terry and Bobby Labonte); Nancy Sterling (Carl Edwards); Gaye Busch (Kurt and Kyle Busch); Diane Newman (Ryan Newman); Mary Lou Hamlin (Denny Hamlin); Linda Truex (Martin Truex, Jr.); Bell Sadler (Hermie and Elliott Sadler); Margaret Waltrip (Michael Waltrip); Meredith Bowman (Jeff Burton); Jana Bowyer (Clint Bowyer); Joan Wimmer (Scott Wimmer); Susie Nolff (Scott Riggs); Martha Nemechek (Joe Nemechek); Martha Jarrett (Dale Jarrett); Marline Gordon (Robby Gordon); Tammy Kahne (Kasey Kahne); Judy Gordon (Jeremy Mayfield); and Pam Boas (Tony Stewart).
The Dodge Charger 500 weekend includes final practice and qualifying for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series on Friday, May 12, followed by the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 that evening. Matt Kenseth won the event in 2005.
On Saturday, May 13, Darlington Raceway will host Cup Series racing for the 57th consecutive year. The Dodge Charger 500 will be run under the lights in its entirety. Greg Biffle is the defending champion.
For tickets or more information, call the Raceway ticket hotline toll-free at 866.459.RACE (7223), or visit www.racetickets.com.