It was announced Saturday the legendary South Carolina track is returning to the International Hot Rod Association in 2024. The 1/4-mile drag strip was constructed by Harold Brasington, who built nearby Darlington Raceway and Woodrow Hall under the guidance of IHRA founder Larry Carrier. Opened in 1976, the venue served as a mainstay on the IHRA schedule.
Darlington Dragway has hosted multiple IHRA national events, IHRA Sportsman Spectaculars and the IHRA Division 9 (Raiders) Summit Team Finals. It was chosen as part of the IHRA Hall of Fame class in 2022. So many of the track’s racers have talked to Darlington Dragway President Jeff Miles in recent months about going back with IHRA.
Miles likes the direction of IHRA under Larry Jeffers, who took over as owner in Sept. 2022, and IHRA President Mel Roth.
“There’s a ton of shared history with Darlington Dragway and IHRA. I see what Larry and Mel are doing, and I want to be on board with it as well,” Miles said. “The racers have been saying, ‘Hey, can we go back to IHRA?’ That’s what they love, and it made it an easy decision.”
The IHRA is certainly glad to welcome back Darlington. So many iconic races and moments in the sport have taken place at the facility. Top Fuel eliminations in the 1979 IHRA Winter Nationals saw 17-time World Champion “Big Daddy” Don Garlits win against the “Bounty Hunter” Connie Kalitta in the final round. The “King of Speed” Kenny Bernstein won in both Top Fuel and Funny Car at Darlington, while the 1984 Winter Nationals featured the classic matchup of Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “Mongoose” McEwen.
Bill Kuhlman posted the first five-second and 200 mph pass by a door car in his Pro Mod at Darlington in 1987. IHRA Hall of Fame racers Doug Herbert, Gene Snow, Ricky Smith, Scotty Cannon and Shannon Jenkins are among other winners on the famed drag strip.
In more recent years, Darlington Dragway has hosted events for the IHRA’s grassroots, Sportsman racers including the Division 9 Summit Team Finals in 2021. IHRA Owner Larry Jeffers talked about Darlington re-joining IHRA next season and participating in the programs like the IHRA Summit SuperSeries, the most prestigious championship in bracket racing.
“We are thrilled to make this announcement that Darlington Dragway will be back with IHRA,” Jeffers said. “Darlington Dragway is truly one of the country’s most iconic venues, located in an area with such a deep appreciation for motorsports and home to so many great drag racers. We look forward to them again racing in the IHRA Summit SuperSeries and us being able to announce other great events at Darlington Dragway.”
Miles likes the personal touch shown by the IHRA’s top officials. He has seen a commitment to the grassroots racers, and IHRA-member tracks like never before. “It’s a great fit for us. I was in the hospital three days last week, and Larry and Mel were calling every day to check on me,” Miles said. “Plus, we’ve seen all they’re doing to promote the local racers and tracks. That means a lot.”
Stay tuned to the IHRA.com website and social media channels for other big news coming soon.