When a lone broomstick and a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles were discovered in Darlington Raceway's Victory Lane recently, track officials could come up with only one explanation. Although Harry Potter may have courage enough to conquer evil Lord Voldemort, the famed boy wizard quailed in the face of the track "Too Tough To Tame."
Harry's world is not so different from Darlington Raceway, after all. At Hogwarts School, the past and present happily co-exist. Spirits of former inhabitants still drift through the halls, and the ghosts of former headmasters hang contentedly on the walls, framed portraits of the past waiting to offer guidance to newcomers brave enough to seek it.
Was "The Boy Who Lived" fleeing the hordes of paparazzi trailing him in frenzied anticipation of the July 21 release of his seventh, and final, adventure, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?" Or was he merely passing by en route to a well-deserved holiday in Myrtle Beach when he impulsively decided to take his Firebolt on a detour through Darlington?
Perhaps the voices of Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly and Fireball Roberts called out to Harry as he passed overhead, with remembered stories of legendary campaigns won and lost on NASCAR's most historic battleground, or discussing what might happen on Mother's Day weekend 2008 when the stars of the NEXTEL Cup Series compete on Darlington's new asphalt for the first time.
The "Daily Prophet" may even have reported tales of the whisker-close finishes and lightning-fast pit stops at NASCAR's toughest track, impressive even by wizarding standards, alongside results from the Quidditch World Cup finals.
Only Harry Potter knows for sure.
"It wouldn't really surprise me that much for Harry to visit us," said Raceway president Chris Browning, a Muggle. "The 2007 Dodge Avenger 500 hosted guests from 48 states and eight foreign countries. You could honestly say the grandstand crowd was as diverse as a box of Bernie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. We welcome fans from every type of community at Darlington. They'll need tickets, though; neither Apparating nor the use of Floo Powder are permitted on Raceway property!"
Racing's superstars will be packing horsepower instead of broomsticks when they sweep back into Darlington Raceway on Mother's Day weekend 2008. The Carolina Dodge Dealers 500 will be run under the lights on Saturday evening, May 10. Jeff Gordon is the defending champion.
On Friday, May 9, Denny Hamlin will attempt to earn the elusive "three-peat" at Darlington in the Diamond Hill Plywood 200, also a night race, after winning the 2006 and 2007 events.
Seat requests for all events are available now. For more information, contact the Darlington Raceway ticket line toll-free at 866.459.RACE (7223), or visit www.racetickets.com.