Darlington Raceway opens up infield for Pokemon Go players - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Darlington Raceway opens up infield for Pokemon Go players

Kids play Pokemon Go on the Darlington Raceway grounds. (Source: Audrey Biesk) Kids play Pokemon Go on the Darlington Raceway grounds. (Source: Audrey Biesk)

DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Darlington Raceway opened its grounds Thursday afternoon for Pokémon players only, giving them an opportunity to, "catch em' all."

Kerry Tharp, the new president of Darlington Raceway, was behind the creation of the all-ages event. He said he wanted to get people out and get active while having fun.

"You know what, why not us? Let’s open up our gates for one time for potential gamers here in this community, let them play the game, let them experience the mystique of Darlington Raceway and oh, by the way, we might sell a few tickets and there is a charitable component involved as well,” Tharp said.  

There was a $10 admission fee to get in the track, but with that, $5 got everyone a ticket to practice day on Sept. 2 before the Labor Day Southern 500 race. The other $5 went toward the raceway's charitable organization, Darlington Shares.

Tharp said he thinks this was the first track to ever open up its grounds just to play Pokémon Go.

“When you stop and think about it, a racetrack is a landmark in that particular area and Darlington is certainly a landmark in this part of the state," he said. "So we might be on the cutting edge here in Darlington and the Pee Dee.”

A landmark typically known for its NASCAR history, but with this event, it was also a place for the popular app to take over, if for one afternoon.

Tharp said the idea came during a staff meeting last week when his employees said they play game all the time. He has also noticed kids at night hanging outside the track hunting for Pokémon.

“You know, they are having fun doing it, and you also have to be active doing it," he said. "So I’m told, especially for the young people, it gets them off the couch, it gets them off the easy chair because you have to walk around in order to succeed. So we want them to come in today and experience that.”

That plan worked for 11 year-old William, who came out to show his skills.

“I’m usually a video game person, and I love video games and it gets people who love video games outside,” he said.

William's dad took him outside all afternoon to play, and their last stop was the Darlington Raceway.

"I have a hundred Pokeballs, and I know these good people have a lot more, but they get them every level up so I have to keep going,” he said.

The Raceway said if the craze is still going strong, they may host another Pokémon event open for players, maybe in the evening. There may be something planned during the Southern 500 Labor Day race as well.

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