DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - After nearly a decade of racing on Mother's day, The Southern 500 at Darlington was moved up to this weekend, as part of an attempt by both NASCAR and the track's owner to enhance fan experience.
"NASCAR is like a carnival. They come in and unload their stuff and we do the race and they head back out," said Darlington Raceway President, Chip Wile. "But there's a lot of prep that people don't think about before everybody arrives."
Preparation for race weekend began back on January 1st. Before Wile and his team could begin, they had to make it through winter weather and the first year president of the raceway says before fans start to pour in this weekend there is lots of work to be done.
"You got to clean all the bathrooms, you to have to put all the tents in, you got to move all the port-o-potties," said Wile. "There's just so much to putting one of these huge events on and our team's up for the task."
After a stint as Director of business development at Motor Racing network, Wile took over the track "Too Tough to Tame" last August. Saturday will be his first Bojangles Southern 500 as the president of Darlington Raceway.
"To be the leader of the Darlington Speedway is a dream come true," said Wile. "It's a coveted job. This place means so much to this area but to NASCAR. This is the Lambeau Field of NASCAR.
And Much like Lambeau Field, Darlington Raceway is steeped in the history of its sport. Wile has been able to preserve its historical integrity while still adding new age amenities this year; Including wi-fi hot spots, concerts and a tailgating area.
"There's an expectation when people come here. They know the racing is good," said Wile "It's our job to provide them the best customer service and to give them elements so they want to be here all day and enjoy the action."
It's not just the track that benefits from the influx of racing fans .Hotels and restaurants in the area also have reason to look forward to Race weekend.
"The city on average has 62 hundred people but when the race is in town they have over a hundred thousand. The economic impact is over 54 million dollars for our race weekend that it brings to the Pee Dee area.