This morning, my nephew Kaleb and I took a road trip to the Darlington Raceway Museum. Located at Darlington Raceway, it is a small but nice museum that houses a number of historic stock cars, memorabilia from NASCAR’s early days, and the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame. It isn’t very far from I-95 at all and if you’re ever in the Darlington area, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to drop in and visit.
There are a couple of race cars from the 1990s in the museum, but for the most part the cars at the Darlington museum are from NASCAR’s formative years. They give a good representation of how stock cars have evolved from truly stock machines to purpose built race cars. You also see how safety has improved over the years, from stock seats and roll bars to custom built seats and full roll cages (I just wish there was a newer car or example of the latest driver seats). You also get to see how drivers’ equipment such as helmets and race suits have changed.
The museum also has the Darrel Waltrip 1991 Lumina that he crashed so heavily in that year’s Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. As unsafe as we think cars of that era are now, it’s still many times safer than the early cars you see in the museum. It’s still amazing, however, that he survived this crash without any major injuries.
Among the museum’s displays are examples of confiscated illegal parts. One display case contains a variety of smaller parts such as suspension pieces, flywheels, a nitrous bottle hidden in a drink cooler, and a device to lower a rear spoiler. One of the most eye catching confiscated parts, though, is this Smokey Yunick built hood.
The National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame has displays for all of their inductees along with a piece or two of memorabilia from each. In no particular order, here are some of my favorites.
Finally, something for my open wheel friends. In the early days of Darlington Raceway, there were open wheel races as well as stock car races. This is something I definitely want to research and learn more about:
On the way to Darlington this morning, I saw a sign at one of the Walterboro, SC exits for a Tuskegee Airmen Monument. During lunch, I looked up more information on it and found that it wasn’t far off of the interstate at the Lowcountry Regional Airport in Walterboro. During World War II, Lowcountry regional was Walterboro Army Airfield, where some of the Tuskegee Airmen Trained. There is also a museum in Walterboro with more about the Tuskegee Airmen but it is closed on Mondays, so another visit will be in order.
All in all it was a fun trip. I enjoyed telling Kaleb about the race cars, personalities, and motor sport and answering his questions just as much as I enjoyed seeing the cars and the displays. Perhaps one day he’ll become a motor sport fan too.
The Road Trip Radio Report can be read here.