Race Weekend Central

Not Quite NASCAR: ‘Darlington of Dirt’ Closed, but Carolina Clay Abound on Throwback Weekend

With NASCAR’s throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway running out of creativity and history to make diecasts out of, fans looking for old-school racing away from the Track Too Tough to Tame will find options across the Palmetto State this weekend.

Lake View Motor Speedway and Sumter Speedway, two of the tracks closest to Darlington, will be shuttered this weekend as the asphalt throngs roll into town.

And with rain likely to be an issue all weekend long, the Darlington of Dirt itself, Laurens County Speedway, announced May 5 that it had canceled its scheduled Ultimate Super Late Model Series race on Friday, May 6.

But for those looking for throwback without the fanfare, here’s where the red clay is set to fly this weekend.

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Late Models at Lancaster Go Toe-to-Toe with the “Next Gen”

NASCAR may be racing at Darlington on Saturday night (May 7), but so is the Ultimate Super Late Model Series, with the tour slated to run a $5,000-to-win feature at the Lancaster Motor Speedway a mere hour and 15 minutes west on South Carolina state roads. 

The field expected to contest the event will be largely regional, with the World of Outlaws contesting a three-day major event in Wisconsin, but that’s not to say there will be a lack of talent.

The track has also confirmed that hometown driver Ben Watkins, the 2022 Xtreme DIRTcar Series runner-up and a two-time winner of Lancaster’s Rose City Rumble event, will be doing several outreach events with LMS, greeting fans at the ticket gate during pre-race and taking part in a mid-program candy drop.

Traveler’s Rest Praying for Dry

No bells and whistles, just a standard weekly racing program is on tap for Traveler’s Rest Speedway on Friday night, highlighted by the track’s 602 crate late model class, a three-hour jaunt west on I-20 and I-26.

Unlike Laurens County Speedway, which already announced a closure Thursday with an iffy weather forecast looming, Traveler’s Rest is currently all systems go, letting fans know on their Facebook page that it’s praying for favorable weather. 

With Rain a Possibility, Think Micro Sprints at Millbridge

Speaking of that rain issue, race fans seeking a dirt fix that could go off may do well to pay attention to the Millbridge Speedway outside of Charlotte, a tick under two-and-a-half hours north of Darlington on US-601. 

For one, Millbridge is worth the trip, regardless of Saturday’s field likely to be devoid of NASCAR visitors with the circus at Darlington over the weekend. Every ticket at the track is a pit pass, the facility is conducive to slide jobs every lap and the “world-famous” walking tacos are every bit as good as advertised. 

But back to the rain. Yes, if it rains all weekend and the grounds get saturated, Millbridge will be forced to cancel like any other dirt track. But in the event of mist or drizzle, I’d rather be waiting on a tiny oval like Millbridge to get brought back to life than a larger facility. 

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The Bottom Dollar

At the time of this writing, the cheapest seat available for Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington is $61 for a ticket in the turn 4 Pearson Tower grandstand.

By comparison, grandstand tickets for the above listed venues are as follows:

Lancaster Motor Speedway – $20
Millbridge Speedway – $20 (pit pass)
Traveler’s Rest Speedway – $15

A pit pass at any of the above listed venues is available for purchase by the public and all will run less than the $61 needed at Darlington on Sunday.

About the author

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

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