DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA (June 5, 2018) – Darlington Raceway is celebrating “7 Decades of NASCAR” for its Bojangles’ Southern 500 Throwback Weekend on Sept. 1-2. As part of the celebration, the track Too Tough To Tame is highlighting specific moments in the sport’s history, continuing today with the 1980s.
After enduring the ups and downs of the 1970s, NASCAR entered the 80s decade with strong momentum and fresh new faces driving the sport to new heights.
The days of the large clunky cars produced by the manufacturers in the 70s were long gone. Smaller cars with just as much horsepower were created, and very exciting racing for fans followed shortly after.
Additionally, sponsorship for the race teams and tracks became a regular occurrence in the 80s as the popularity of the sport reached a higher level. Companies and businesses were starting to lineup for a chance to place their name on a car or at the track in front of thousands of hungry fans waiting to consume or purchase their favorite driver’s and track’s merchandise. The exposure gained from a NASCAR sponsorship grew exponentially throughout the 80s.
“The 1980s were truly a coming-of-age period for NASCAR,” Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp said. “NASCAR was growing by leaps and bounds and competing for fans with the other professional sports such as the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball. With sponsorships strong, fans packing the grandstands, and competitive racing, it was a great era for the sport.”
Upcoming stars such as Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Tim Richmond and Rusty Wallace were making a name for themselves on the track, battling the likes of seasoned veterans such as Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison and Richard Petty. It was a changing of the guard in the 80s as the veterans continued to make way (not by choice) for the new blood.
However, one veteran in particular wasn’t going let the young up-and-coming drivers spoil his quest to score his 200th career NASCAR Cup Series victory during the 1984 campaign. Petty had won at Dover earlier in the season for win No. 199, but the 200th victory was eluding him in the summer.
Petty entered the Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway as the underdog after having sub-par results through the 1984 season. With U.S. President Ronald Reagan in attendance, Petty beat Yarborough to the line by inches to secure his 200th career win, and in turn, was congratulated and honored by President Reagan in the press box afterward.
The win is still considered one of the most historic in NASCAR history and the last of Petty’s historic career. The 200 career NASCAR Cup wins by Petty is a career record that will likely never be broken.
Notable historic drivers and moments in the 1980s include:
Darlington Raceway’s award-winning throwback campaign is The Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR featuring the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500® on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018. The NASCAR XFINITY Series Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 will race on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. Deposits can be made by calling 866-459-7223 or visiting 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, #BojanglesSo500 and #SportClips200.