DARLINGTON, S.C. — Darlington Raceway paid tribute to the Timmonsville, South Carolina native, Cale Yarborough, Saturday morning in a special ceremony at the track. In his honor, the Darlington Raceway Sprint Cup Garage was renamed the Cale Yarborough Garage.
New track president Kerry Tharp presided over the event, saying, “The gentleman (Cale Yarborough) to my right is an icon in our sport.” He went on to cite some of the 2012 NASCAR Hall of Famer’s accomplishments.
“He won three straight NASCAR premier SERIES championships, from ’76-’78. He won four Daytona 500s. He posted 83 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories and 69 poles.” Tharp then concluded by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen it gives me great honor, privilege, to dedicate the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage here at Darlington Raceway, (which) will be forever known as the Cale Yarborough Garage.”
Yarborough was all smiles as he talked about his memories of Darlington Raceway.
“It means an awful lot to me, he said. “ As you say I was born and raised just across a few swamps from here and Darlington Raceway has always been my favorite racetrack in the world. And to have this honor is just great. It’s something that I will always remember and I still get goosebumps when I come round this place. I wouldn’t take nothing for winning the 1968 Southern 500, the last race run on the original Darlington racetrack. It’s been a great place for me and I thank you for the honor.”
Yarborough also spoke about his first trip to the track.
“I came over here in 1951, I believe, with some friends of mine from school, and I didn’t have enough money to buy a ticket to get in so I walked around the race track and found a place in the fence that was high enough I thought I could slip under it and that’s what I did.”
“I slipped under the fence and,” he continued, “I knew that day that this is what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be.”
“But since that day I slipped under the fence, I have been on top of the fence, I’ve been over the fence,” he added, alluding to the complexity of the track that is aptly named “Too Tough to Tame.
Yarborough will lead the field to green Sunday evening for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 as the honorary pace car driver. The race will be broadcast on NBC at 6 p.m. ET.