DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - Darlington Raceway is giving people the chance to privately rent out their homes during the Southern 500 Race over Labor Day weekend to make some extra cash and give fans more lodging options.
It was announced on Tuesday for the first time that the start-up company Rent Like A Champion reached out to Darlington Raceway to start this partnership in the beginning of 2016.
"We put out a pretty good economic impact here in the Pee Dee, in excess of $50 million annually," said Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp.
He is hoping this new partnership will bring even more momentum.
"You know, we draw fans from every single state in the union and 14 foreign countries, so this might be an opportunity for someone who isn't familiar with the area and feel like they would rather stay in a home," Tharp said.
Officials with Rent Like A Champion, which is based out of Chicago, always wanted to offer their service to NASCAR fans and Darlington Raceway is the first step into that world.
The Southern 500 race seemed like a good fit, as the hotels around the Pee Dee are typically booked up during Labor Day weekend and more expensive than normal.
"Even if there is hotel space, I think people prefer to travel by renting condos or by renting homes, the idea being in a home you get things that hotels can't offer," said Mike Doyle, CEO of Rent Like A Champion. "You get a backyard, a big kitchen to prep meals, you have a living room where people can hang out before and after the race."
The private homes and condos are 99 percent primary residences, according to Doyle. That means the owner may leave on a few weekends during the year.
Also, on average, the owner makes $1,000-plus each time it's rented.
"Usually when we launch a town in the first, I'd say four to six weeks, our plan is to get 25 or so homes up and live on the site," Doyle said.
Tharp said Darlington Raceway will get 30 percent of the rent charged on each home.
"So it's an opportunity for us to have a little revenue stream as well," he said. "Once people get wind of it and are able to explore the possibilities, hopefully they will build up a good inventory here in the next several weeks and have some options to choose from."
The raceway hopes this partnership will last for many years. Rent Like a Champion takes care of all the logistics like security deposits, contracts and insurance policies of every property listed.
The company is expecting to do major recruiting in Darlington this summer before the Southern 500 race.