Darlington’s iconic Southern 500 is changing dates,, but it’s not going back to its original Labor Day position on the calendar. The track announced Friday the race is moving from Mother’s Day Weekend to April 12th. That, of course, puts the race up against the third round of The Masters. But since the race is at night, that conflict may not be a major factor.
Here’s the release from Darlington:
In an effort to improve the guest experience in celebrating its 65th year of racing tradition and history, Darlington Raceway is moving its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 race weekend to April 11-12, 2014.
“We’re making this change with the fan experience in mind,” track President Chip Wile said. “We’ve always enjoyed the tradition of racing on Mother’s Day weekend, but sometimes a change like this is necessary. We have the opportunity to get a fresh start and embrace a new date on the NASCAR calendar. This will give us a chance to implement many fun and exciting initiatives we’ll be rolling out to celebrate our 65th year of racing at the track Too Tough To Tame.”
Additionally, South Carolina traditionally has better weather in April. Moving the date up a month aims to alleviate some of the challenges Darlington Raceway has encountered with hotter temperatures in May, which takes away from the guest experience. The average temperature in April 2013 was 75.2 degrees, with May’s average at 81 degrees.
“With the hotter temperatures and humidity in South Carolina in May, weather has always played a factor for our events,” Wile said. “Traditionally, April is a great weather month in our state and will potentially bring slightly cooler temperatures for our fans to enjoy.”
The move will also give Darlington the opportunity to further focus its efforts on delivering a fun and exciting experience for its local college and university student bodies.
At least 10 different higher education institutions are located within a 100-mile radius from the track, including the University of South Carolina, Coastal Carolina University, Francis Marion University and Coker College among others.
“College students always enjoy the atmosphere we provide at our racing events, but it could be sometimes tough for them to attend in May with finals and graduations taking place at that time,” Wile said. “With an April date, this gives us a better opportunity to focus our efforts on the experience we can deliver them, which includes affordable pricing and a quality tailgating experience.”
The change also has the potential to provide the sport with major and exciting storylines heading into the Easter break the following weekend in 2014.
The schedule for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 race weekend will remain the same as it has been in year’s past. The NASCAR Nationwide Series 200 race will run on Friday night, April 11 and the Bojangles’ Southern 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will run on Saturday night, April 12, both under the lights.
Tickets to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Saturday, April 12 and NASCAR Nationwide Series 200 on Friday, April 11 will go on sale November 29, 2013. Kids 12 and under are half off for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 and FREE for the NASCAR Nationwide Series 200 in general admission.