September Tenth; My Thoughts on Darlington and NASCAR. Trying to Explain The Lady In Black

“Drivers…start your engines!!”


On Sunday, Sept. fifth, my son took me to the Darlington Raceway to see the Cookout Southern 500. This was the first race of the playoffs. At the “Track too tough to be tamed.” also known as “The Lady in Black”.


I asked my son, why, Darlington was called The Track Too Tough To Be Tamed. He gave me the explanation that it wanted to be driven as if it were a super speedway, but you couldn’t drive it that way. Because of the way it was designed. They want to call it an oval, but it isn’t, it is in fact egg shaped. With turns one and two wider than turns three and four. Because of a minnow pond.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darlington_Raceway


I did not ask him about the Lady in Black name so I looked it up for this write.  The above link gives a different reason for the name, but I like this one better. https://www.nascar.com/long-form/darlington-nickname-benny-phillips-lady-in-black/ I really enjoyed reading what was written here. It brings a life, a heartbeat to the reason.


I will say upfront, that I am not a rabid NASCAR fan, not like the many I saw this past weekend. I can however, understand why they are. Over the course of time, I have listened to those who are not fans in any way, condemn the sport, and yes, I said sport. They don’t understand the fascination of watching cars go around and around. They don’t see, that there is so much more to it than watching cars drive in a loop, what ever the layout.


The tracks have personalities. They have their individual quirks and attitudes. They are not merely the materials in which they are made. Drivers have to get a feel for the track to gain an understanding of that so to know better how to handle the challenge to come.


Drivers have to be able to watch, listen, feel, anticipate, react. They have to see what is going on around them. They have to hear what their spotter (the one set up to where they can see the track from a higher, better perspective and warn and instruct the driver) is telling them and act accordingly. They have to be able to react in a nanosecond when all hell breaks loose around them. Physically fit and safely anchored in when their vehicle takes them on the ride of their life, barrel rolling down the track or airborne without a pilot’s license.


They have to have the stamina of mind and body to handle the many varied situations that arise. The vehicles are designed to deflect heat, but crumpled the wrong way is disaster. Long runs are hot, tiresome and threaten dehydration if liquids are not available. Tires go down, flames erupt, weather and lighting change, the surface of the track changes. Everything must be factored in. As the cars go around.


Drivers who have been tearing around a track at well over a hundred miles per hour, have to drop that speed sharply on pit road. Enter or leave at too great a speed? Penalty. Miss your pit box, have crew members cross the wall too soon, not maintain control over tires, tools or other various materials, penalty. To the back of the pack and try to make your way back through the masses.


Drivers have personalities too, and they come out under stress. From those who shrug off events with a “that’s racing’ attitude, to those who declare war. From those who smile in their disappointment and say they’ll have to try harder next time, to those who drive over barrier cones and declare their team incompetent. The ones who simply walk away, and the ones who throw helmets and punches.

The fans feed on that. They pick their favorite driver and the hated driver. They stand in the grandstands with each restart and cheer. Watching that first lap around, maybe two or more, before sitting. They wave and they shout. Cheering when the hated is out of the race early or cry should it be their favorite.


Who are the fans?

Not always the uneducated. Not always the so called redneck not able to choose a more favored sport. I sat in the stands and I watched the people around me. I watched as I climbed the many stairs and walked among the souvenir haulers. They are from the very young, to the age where you watch to make sure they can maneuver the steps. They are the well dressed to the half dressed. They consume water, soda or beer. They pay the high price or they bring their own. They are parents, they are dates, they are friends.

They are individuals who understand that it is a sport that is more than driving in circles. It is the roaring thunder of all that horsepower contained under the hood of a vehicle with a paint scheme of  various sponsors. It is the watching the combatants in their modern arena fighting their way to a championship. It is being present, being a part in the only way possible and taking home the memories.


Memories of watching as thunder faces the Lady in Black, as thunder earns their Darlington Stripes, as thunder does their best, on the track too tough to be tamed. I’m glad I was there, enjoying the battle before me, and bringing home that moment to remember and to share in writing. Trying to explain, that which cannot be explained in words. It is something one must experience first hand. Especially when it is a raceway known as, the Lady In Black.

Just a slight fire. Photo courtesy of my son.

About rebecca s revels

A writer, a photographer, a cancer survivor. An adventurer of the mild kind, a lover of the simple pleasures such as long walks and chocolate. A Christian unashamed of my faith and a friend who is dependable and will encourage readily. Author of three self published books with more waiting to find their way to paper. An advocate of good things, a fighter against wrongs.
This entry was posted in blogging, education, encouragement, faith, inspiration, life's journey, memories, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to September Tenth; My Thoughts on Darlington and NASCAR. Trying to Explain The Lady In Black

  1. Pingback: September Tenth; My Thoughts on Darlington and NASCAR. Trying to Explain The Lady In Black – Chilly’s History Podcast

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