Bojangles Southern 500 boosts local business in Pee Dee

DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – Hundreds of NASCAR race fans went home on Labor Day after bringing millions of dollars to hotels and restaurants for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 race weekend.

A nearly packed house at the Southern 500 also filled businesses like the Original Raceway Grill.

Owner Tony Baird said it was standing room only at his restaurant the entire weekend.

“It’s great to see the people come in from year to year. That have been coming 20- 30 years here to this grill. Just to have that family atmosphere with them coming in. It was a lot busier this year than the last,” he said. “I had folks from Scotland some from Germany and places like that. I didn’t notice those as much last year as I did this year. “

Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp said about 60,000 fans packed the Raceway Sunday night and it appeared to be an even bigger crowd than last year. NASCAR has struggled at some tracks to sell tickets. That hasn’t been the case at Darlington for the past few years and that means millions of dollars of business for local vendors.

Tharp explained the race brings more than $50 Million dollars to the Pee Dee each year.

“For us to be able to know that we have that big of an impact on the state and on this region, it is very satisfying and gratifying. But it also makes us want to improve the experience even more in 2018,” said Tharp.

Baird said the grill will also improve for fans and drivers next race.

“I grew up eating in here. We just try to continue that tradition on,” Baird concludes.

Tharp said the official attendance numbers will come in later this month the raceway will take a short break then start planning for next year’s race.