UPDATE – According to a recent article by the Associated Press, Darlington Raceway President Chip Wile “likes” the new April date for the Darlington race and so does NASCAR. Wile cites falling attendance as one of the factors in moving the date of the race. Wile also notes that the April race was “almost a full house” but cited “track policy” as to why he could not give an exact attendance number. It would appear that for the time being the Darlington race will not be moving back to Labor Day weekend.
From 1950 to 2003 Darlington Raceway and NASCAR were known for one thing, awesome racing on Labor Day weekend. That all came to an end in 2004 when Darlington lost one of its two annual races. For a while NASCAR would have the Darlington race on the same weekend as Mothers Day. This year NASCAR decided to move the annual Darlington event to April which did not sit well with many fans, especially those who attend the Darlington race.
Last week NASCAR president Mike Helton was asked by the media as to whether or not he ever thought NASCAR would return to Darlington on Labor Day weekend.
You never know. There were a lot of stories that came from Labor Day races here at the Southern 500. The badge around here was based on Labor Day weekends. So all I could tell you is you never know. I have seen a lot of things in this sport that I was surprised by … and that led me to believe that the future of the sport can have things happen that people say won’t happen again. So you never know.
Although Helton left the door open, it would seem clear that this isn’t something that is going to be happening anytime in the near future. One would have to assume that NASCAR takes something like removing an event from a track very seriously. One would also have to assume that they take changing months in which races are held at tracks quite seriously as well. For NASCAR to have made this change back in 2004 and again in 2014, they must have had what they felt was a sound reason.
Darlington Raceway president Chip Wilde also chimed in on the topic.
With the date change, we’ve actually seen an increase in some segments that NASCAR has been focused on. So we are committed to our race date, but we welcome any conversation.
Wilde might very well want the Labor Day weekend race to return but stating that in a public forum might not exactly be best for business. In the end Darlington does still have an annual NASCAR event and that is something that not every track in the country can say. While history is deeply rooted in the Labor Day race at Darlington there simply comes a time when you cannot keep doing things for the sake of history. NASCAR clearly felt that time had come back in 2004 and they haven’t looked back since.