Some of NASCAR's most historic moments have unfolded at the track “Too Tough to Tame.” In 1985 Bill Elliott recorded wins in three of NASCAR's “crown jewel” races winning the season opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, the Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway and Southern 500® at Darlington Raceway and was awarded the first ever Winston Million.
The closest finish in NASCAR history also calls Darlington Raceway home. In an epic battle on March 16, 2003 Ricky Craven recorded his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory edging out Kurt Busch by only .002 thousandths of a second.
Following the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season a new tradition began at Darlington Raceway, now the thunderous roar of stock car engines can be heard each Mother's Day weekend in May as the sports top stars look to win at the track “Too Tough to Tame.” As part of the Mother's Day weekend tradition, many of the driver's mothers participate in pre-race ceremonies and give the “gentlemen, start your engines” command to get the racing underway.
As the demand for NASCAR racing grows, so to does Darlington Raceway. In 1994 Tyler Tower opened adding an additional 15,966 seats to the famed track. Following the addition of the Tyler Tower all of the track's grandstands – (Harold) Brasington, (Bob) Colvin, (Barney) Wallace and (Walter) Tyler – were named for former track presidents. Renovations continued with the completion of the Pearson Tower in 1998. Named after all-time Darlington Raceway wins leader, David Pearson, the Pearson Tower is the only grandstand not named after a former president of Darlington Raceway.
The Darlington Raceway of the 21st century remains true to Harold Brasington's ideas of what NASCAR racing should be about - fast, intense action for the fans and dedicated drivers loyal to the sport that America has come to crave.
Officials have continued to update the storied track's facilities; the first race to finish under the lights at Darlington Raceway took place in 2004. In 2005 a new Brasington Tower was constructed overlooking turn 1 with updated amenities for fans to enjoy. In late 2007 Darlington Raceway received the largest renovation in the track's 58-year history with $10 million in funding for capital projects including repaving of the racing surface and aprons, the addition of concrete pit stalls and a new infield access tunnel large enough to accommodate race car haulers and motorcoaches.
In 2009 Darlington Raceway celebrated a historic milestone – 60 years of racing – when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series makes its annual stop at the famed South Carolina facility. Making the 60th celebration extra special, old and new traditions united when the Southern 500® race name returned to the track “Too Tough to Tame” on Mother's Day weekend in 2009.
The track "Too Tough to Tame" has come a long way since Harold Brasington graded the first turn. It continues to keep pace with the booming NASCAR world of the new century while standing as a monument to the drivers and loyal fans who sowed the seeds of stock car racing sixty years ago. And with its dedication to fans and its continuing physical enhancements, Darlington Raceway drives wide open toward the fulfillment of its ultimate goal – to be the best facility in motorsports.