Southern 500 brings millions of people and dollars to Darlington

DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - Not only do millions of people come to the Pee Dee for the Bojangles' Southern 500 race, millions of dollars flow into the local businesses as well.

Darlington Mayor Tony Watkins feels that the city is so lucky that they are still able to call themselves home to the historic race after all these years.

"It brings the prestige, the history, the pride, and the dollars to not only this region, but to the entire state as well, and we are very very proud that it's still here," Mayor Watkins said.

He says the race brings in $54 million, making it the biggest one-day event out of the entire state of South Carolina. Many feel that it puts Darlington on both the map and a world stage.

"We've actually had people move to Darlington just because of the race to set up their business," said John C. Ramsey.

The race is also a month earlier this year. In years past, the race would interfere with Mother's Day. Ramsey says this made it harder for people, especially those out of state, to get to the race. Long-time fans and locals agree that this could mean more people and more money to the area this year.

Darlington Center has a new mural dedicated to the Darlington 500. The artist behind the work, Blue Sky, says he feels honored that he was asked to portray such an iconic and historic event in South Carolina history.

The haulers came into Darlington Center around 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday night. Fans say this officially kicks off the weekend they have been waiting for all year.

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