One of NASCAR’s oldest partners is embracing its history in the sport at Darlington. Goodyear and Darlington Raceway have agreed to an entitlement deal for the spring Cup race at the South Carolina track as part of NASCAR’s Throwback Weekend.
The May 9 race will be called the Goodyear 400, and marks the tire company’s first entitlement race in North America. Goodyear is the official tire supplier for NASCAR and its longest-running continuous partner.
“Goodyear and NASCAR have a shared legacy that spans six decades and multiple generations, and the throwback nature of the Goodyear 400 allows us to celebrate the accomplishments of the past while also showcasing the incredible talents of drivers today,” a statement from Goodyear’s vice president of marketing Karen Maroli said.
The Goodyear tires used in the race will feature a “Blue Streak” design like last year and include white lettering and a white logo to recall the design of NASCAR tires used in the 1960s and 70s rather than the current yellow “Eagle” design that the supplier moved to in 1981.
Goodyear and Darlington Raceway also share a history in the sport. The tire company conducted its first official NASCAR tire test at Darlington in 1954 and earned its first NASCAR victory in the 1959 Southern 500 with driver Jim Reed.
“Goodyear is one of the most iconic brands in the history of motorsports, so we are proud to welcome them back to Darlington Raceway for the Goodyear 400,” Darlington president Kerry Tharp said in a statement. “Goodyear has been a part of many monumental moments in Darlington Raceway’s storied history. We look forward to writing a new chapter with Goodyear as part of the Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR.”
In addition to Darlington hosting NASCAR’s Throwback Weekend, when teams will sport vintage paint schemes, this year’s spring race at the 1.366-mile oval will fall on Mother’s Day and could see more guests in the infield. According to a recent report by Sport Business Journal, NASCAR has told teams that it will allow a limited number of fully vaccinated guests, meaning in the single digits per team, into the infield during the Darlington race weekend as the sport looks ahead to a full reopen after the pandemic.
NASCAR has only allowed a limited number of individuals on the competition-side into the garage and pit road areas at the track since the pandemic hit last year, so any reopening to sponsor and team guests in the coming months would focus on supporting the business side.
The Truck Series race, the LiftKits4Less.com 200, will run 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 7 night at the track, followed by the Xfinity Series’ Steakhouse Elite 200 race 1 p.m. May 8. The Goodyear 400 Cup Series race is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. May 9.
NASCAR returns to Darlington in September for the Cook Out Southern 500 to start the playoffs for the second consecutive year as part of a Labor Day weekend of racing on Sept. 4-5.