Home » Darlington Raceway and Museum » Road Trip – The Darlington Raceway Museum and the Walterboro Tuskegee Airmen Monument

Road Trip – The Darlington Raceway Museum and the Walterboro Tuskegee Airmen Monument

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This morning, my nephew Kaleb and I took a road trip to the Darlington Raceway Museum.  Located at Darlington Raceway, it is a small but nice museum that houses a number of historic stock cars, memorabilia from NASCAR’s early days, and the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame.  It isn’t very far from I-95 at all and if you’re ever in the Darlington area, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to drop in and visit.

My nephew Kaleb in front of the mighty Melling Ford Thunderbird that Bill Elliott won the first Winston Million in.

My nephew Kaleb in front of the mighty Melling Ford Thunderbird that Bill Elliott won the first Winston Million in.

There are a couple of race cars from the 1990s in the museum, but for the most part the cars at the Darlington museum are from NASCAR’s formative years.  They give a good representation of how stock cars have evolved from truly stock machines to purpose built race cars.  You also see how safety has improved over the years, from stock seats and roll bars to custom built seats and full roll cages (I just wish there was a newer car or example of the latest driver seats).  You also get to see how drivers’ equipment such as helmets and race suits have changed.

1950 Johnny Mantz Plymouth

1950 Johnny Mantz Plymouth

1950 Fireball Roberts Oldsmobile Rocket 88

1950 Fireball Roberts Oldsmobile Rocket 88

1950 Buck Baker Oldsmobile Rocket 88

1950 Buck Baker Oldsmobile Rocket 88

1951 Herb Thomas Hudson Hornet

1951 Herb Thomas Hudson Hornet

Bob Welborn convertible Chevrolet race car

Bob Welborn convertible Chevrolet race car

1959 Jim Reed Chevrolet

1959 Jim Reed Chevrolet

Richard Petty 1967 Plymouth.  This car won all but 3 or 5 of the 27 races he won on the way to the 1967 championship.

Richard Petty 1967 Plymouth. This car won all but 3 or 5 of the 27 races he won on the way to the 1967 championship.

One of Darrell Waltrip's Tide Monte Carlos

One of Darrell Waltrip’s Tide Monte Carlo

1993 Davey Allison Thunderbird, it is supposed to be on the last cars he drove before his death.

1993 Davey Allison Thunderbird, it is supposed to be one of the last cars he drove before his death.

One of the Mark Martin Roush Ford Thunderbirds that dominated the Busch Grand National series.

One of the Mark Martin Roush Ford Thunderbirds that dominated the Busch Grand National series.

The museum also has the Darrel Waltrip 1991 Lumina that he crashed so heavily in that year’s Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.  As unsafe as we think cars of that era are now, it’s still many times safer than the early cars you see in the museum.  It’s still amazing, however, that he survived this crash without any major injuries.

Darrell Waltrip wrecked this car at the 1991 Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Darrell Waltrip wrecked this car at the 1991 Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Darrell Waltrip wrecked this car at the 1991 Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Darrell Waltrip wrecked this car at the 1991 Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Among the museum’s displays are examples of confiscated illegal parts.  One display case contains a variety of smaller parts such as suspension pieces, flywheels, a nitrous bottle hidden in a drink cooler, and a device to lower a rear spoiler.  One of the most eye catching confiscated parts, though, is this Smokey Yunick built hood.

Illegal lightweight hood confiscated from Fireball Roberts' car before the 1962 Southern 500.  Built by none other than Smokey Yunick.

Illegal lightweight hood confiscated from Fireball Roberts’ car before the 1962 Southern 500. Built by none other than Smokey Yunick.

The National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame has displays for all of their inductees along with a piece or two of memorabilia from each.  In no particular order, here are some of my favorites.

What can you say about Wendell Scott?  The discrimination and racism he faced is something the history of stock car racing often glosses over.

What can you say about Wendell Scott? The discrimination and racism he faced is something the history of stock car racing often glosses over.

One of NASCAR's first legendary mechanics, Red Vogt

One of NASCAR’s first legendary mechanics, Red Vogt

Team owner and a man who helped keep NASCAR alive in its early years, Raymond Parks

Team owner and a man who helped keep NASCAR alive in its early years, Raymond Parks

NASCAR's first champion, Red Byron

NASCAR’s first champion, Red Byron

Early star Fireball Roberts

Early star Fireball Roberts

If David Pearson had raced full time more often, Richard Petty might not have had 200 wins or 7 championships.

If David Pearson had raced full time more often, Richard Petty might not have had 200 wins or 7 championships.

South Carolina's own Cale Yarborough

South Carolina’s own Cale Yarborough

Modifieds legend Richie Evans

Modifieds legend Richie Evans

7 time champion Dale Earnhardt

7 time champion Dale Earnhardt

The versatile and legendary A.J. Foyt

The versatile and legendary A.J. Foyt

The legendary and innovative mechanic Smokey Yunick

The legendary and innovative mechanic Smokey Yunick

7 time Champion and 200 race winner Richard Petty

7 time Champion and 200 race winner Richard Petty

The great Neil Bonnett, gone too soon.

The great Neil Bonnett, gone too soon.

Champion Alan Kulwicki.  Gone too soon, he helped accelerate the use of engineers in stock car racing.

Champion Alan Kulwicki. Gone too soon, he helped accelerate the use of engineers in stock car racing.

Tim Richmond - had he lived, Dale Earnhardt may not have won 7 championships and Hendrick may not have hired Jeff Gordon.

Tim Richmond – had he lived, Dale Earnhardt may not have won 7 championships and Hendrick may not have hired Jeff Gordon.

Finally, something for my open wheel friends.  In the early days of Darlington Raceway, there were open wheel races as well as stock car races. This is something I definitely want to research and learn more about:

Picture of open wheel cars racing at Darlington Raceway in the early 1950s

Picture of open wheel cars racing at Darlington Raceway in the early 1950s

On the way to Darlington this morning, I saw a sign at one of the Walterboro, SC exits for a Tuskegee Airmen Monument.  During lunch, I looked up more information on it and found that it wasn’t far off of the interstate at the Lowcountry Regional Airport in Walterboro.  During World War II, Lowcountry regional was Walterboro Army Airfield, where some of the Tuskegee Airmen Trained.  There is also a museum in Walterboro with more about the Tuskegee Airmen but it is closed on Mondays, so another visit will be in order.

Monument to the Tuskegee Airmen who trained at Walterboro Army Airfield

Monument to the Tuskegee Airmen who trained at Walterboro Army Airfield

Monument to the Tuskegee Airmen who trained at Walterboro Army Airfield

Monument to the Tuskegee Airmen who trained at Walterboro Army Airfield

All in all it was a fun trip.  I enjoyed telling Kaleb about the race cars, personalities, and motor sport and answering his questions just as much as I enjoyed seeing the cars and the displays.  Perhaps one day he’ll become a motor sport fan too.

The Road Trip Radio Report can be read here.


2 Comments

  1. […] I posted about the road trip I took with my nephew to the Darlington Raceway Museum.  During the trip, we had the mobile station in operation with the exception of the HF radio:  […]

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