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NASCAR: lights go on at darlington

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posted on Aug, 25 2004 @ 09:47 PM
the track too tough to tame may have just gotten tougher, i can't wait to see them racing at night at this great old track

Let there be light: Darlington switches on

August 24, 2004
DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) -- Darlington Raceway's half-century of tradition changed in a flash Tuesday night with the debut of its multimillion dollar lighting system.

Just before twilight, officials threw the seven switches that lit up exterior lights at NASCAR's oldest superspeedway.

Six-time Darlington winner Jeff Gordon headlined an exhibition program that also featured truck series points leader Bobby Hamilton and racing greats David Pearson and Cale Yarborough.

``I'd never thought we'd race here under the lights,'' Gordon said. ``I think we're going to love it.''

The additions just may save Darlington's spot on the Nextel Cup schedule.

The track, cut out of farmland in 1949, has hosted two races a year since 1960 and held the prestigious Southern 500 each Labor Day weekend. But NASCAR officials moved the Labor Day event to California Speedway this season, and shuffled Darlington's second race to this November.

Beginning next year, the track that debuted in 1950 will have just one race on the schedule -- Mother's Day weekend, a traditional off week for the series.

But it will be a night race, which traditionally draw more fans.

The roof was torn off the Brasington Grandstands in turn 2 to make way for the lights. There'll be 47 poles at heights between 90 and 120 feet outside the track, 27 poles above the grandstand and 212 poles, ranging from 10 to 24 feet high, inside the facility. They are expected to generate 180 million lumens of light to give drivers the same view of the tire-chewing, ornery surface as they might have on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

``During the day, you have to deal with shadows,'' said Hamilton, who won the March 2003 truck race at Darlington. ``There are no shadows at night. And racing at night just looks faster

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