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The History of Darlington Throwback Weekend

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

This weekend is one of the most hotly anticipated weekends of the year, Throwback Weekend. This is the 10th iteration of Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway, so, how has the weekend evolved?

  • Throwback Weekend was introduced in 2015. It coincided with a return to tradition at Darlington Raceway as well.
  • Darlington is seen as the perfect race track for “Throwback Weekend”. It’s one of the oldest tracks on the schedule, and it’s been a staple of NASCAR for many years with a “Crown Jewel” event.
  • Fans love throwback weekends, and drivers and teams love getting into it as well. That energy came from the first throwback weekend in 2015.

Background

In 2015, NASCAR made one of the most popular changes to the schedule they ever had. The Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway would move back to its traditional Labor Day weekend slot. The race was held on Labor Day weekend for 54 years (1950-2003), and it was, at one time, the biggest race in NASCAR.

The return of the Southern 500, one of the most storied traditions in NASCAR history, gave the track and NASCAR an idea. They decided to have an entire “Throwback” theme for the weekend, and it was a major hit.

Teams were encouraged to run alternate throwback paint schemes. The NBC broadcast even got into the spirit with throwback graphics and even bringing back old broadcasters. From there, a Darlington tradition was born.

The Southern 500 was “Throwback Weekend” until 2020. In 2021, Darlington was awarded a spring date on the NASCAR schedule, with the Southern 500 becoming the Playoff opener. Not wanting to conflict with the Playoffs, Darlington elected to move Throwback Weekend to the spring race.

Since then, “Throwback Weekend” has been a springtime tradition. It has played host to some incredible Throwback-Themed highlights.

Highlights

The Paint Schemes

The highlight of Darlington Throwback Weekend is the throwback paint schemes. Some paint scheme throwbacks have been better than others, but, whenever schemes are able to bring in original sponsors or even numbers for faithful recreations, it makes for some incredible paint schemes.

It’s especially cool when these throwback paint schemes end up in victory lane. One such example was the 2018 Southern 500, where Brad Keselowski took a Rusty Wallace Miller throwback scheme to his first Southern 500 win.

Throwback Broadcasters

NBC got into the throwback spirit in 2015 by bringing legendary broadcasters Ken Squier and Ned Jarrett into the booth. While they were definitely past their primes, to hear their voices on a broadcast was nostalgic for older viewers. It was also cool for the younger viewers to hear the old broadcasters.

Fox brought in some legends of the sport as well when they took over Throwback Weekend. In 2023, Richard and Kyle Petty joined for a stage, and Carl Edwards also joined for a stage during Throwback Weekend. The broadcast crews also often get into the spirit by wearing throwback themes clothes.

Seeing Legends of the Sport

Throwback Weekend is also a great opportunity to look back on some of the legends of the sport. In 2023, NASCAR showcased members of their 75 Greatest Drivers list, to honor the 75th anniversary of NASCAR.

Sometimes, bringing back legends can lead to some humorous moments. In 2017, Richard Petty led the field in one of his old Petty Blue No. 43 cars, and he stayed on the track one lap longer than NASCAR asked him to. NASCAR decided to black-flag Petty.

Throwback Weekend is a fun time for everyone involved in NASCAR. The fans, teams, drivers, legends, and broadcasters all get into it in some form or another.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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