NASCAR’s “Lady in Black” is getting a multimillion-dollar upgrade.
Darlington Raceway is spending nearly $7 million to upgrade and improve seating in three of its main grandstands, a project that will affect nearly 60 percent of the 58,000 seats at NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway.
“This solidifies our place as one of the sport’s crown jewels,” Darlington President Kerry Tharp said.
Tharp said the project, dubbed “A Better Darlington,” will begin Thursday and will be completed well before the Southern 500 is run Sept. 2, on Labor Day weekend.
The construction is the track’s biggest capital expenditure since spending $10 million to repave its surface and construct a new infield access tunnel in 2008.
The upgrades are fan-driven to improve the race-day experience at a track that was carved out from South Carolina farmland in 1949 and hosted its first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race a year later. The aging Colvin Grandstand along the backstretch will receive the most attention with its hard-to-sit-on metal benches being swapped out for more comfortable seating, Tharp said.
Concession areas and bathrooms also will be upgraded, Tharp said.
The Tyler Tower and Wallace Grandstands in front of the start-finish line will be redone with not only more luxury areas being added to Tyler but with engineers also redoing the pitch – called a “re-rub,” according to Tharp – that gives spectators a better sightline of action on the track and in the pits.
Darlington also will add three more 12-seat luxury areas to its Jeff Gordon Finish Line Terrace. It opened three such sections in time for last year’s Southern 500.
Also in the works is a one-of-a-kind Wall of Honor to celebrate the track’s winning drivers with banner signage at the bottom of the Wallace and Colvin grandstands on each side of the oval.
“We think this is unique for any track,” Tharp said.