The site of South Carolina's only regularly scheduled NASCAR event is being sold to the owner of the stock car racing circuit along with other marquee tracks around the country.
International Speedway Corp. announced Wednesday that it has agreed to a deal with NASCAR Holdings Inc. valued at $2 billion.
The sale includes some of the nation's best-known stock-car racing venues, including the famed Daytona International Speedway in Florida and Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
In South Carolina, NASCAR will take over ownership of Darlington Raceway in the Pee Dee region. The 1.3-miles "Track Too Tough to Tame" is the site of the Southern 500 each Labor Day weekend.
The two companies said the sale is expected to close later this year.
Their roots run deep. NASCAR created the predecessor to International Speedway in 1953 and it maintains an influential hand in the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based offshoot.
For example, Lesa France Kennedy is not only CEO of the track owner, she's also part of the France clan, who control the closely held NASCAR monopoly and are considered the first family of the sport that Bill France Sr. founded in 1948.
The Frances spun off International Speedway as a separate publicly traded business in the 1990s, but they still control about 74 percent of the voting shares. They proposed to take it private again in November.
The acquisition is the latest makeover for NASCAR as it scrambles to attract fans and halt a skid in attendance and TV ratings.
The International Speedway portfolio includes 12 tracks that hold at least one of the 38 Monster Energy Series races each year. The purchase could make it easier for the circuit to shake up the grueling schedule, including the possibility of dropping some events, after a key contract ends in 2020.
"I would certainly be worried if I was any of the tracks that aren't part of the deal," said Victor Mathewson, a sports economics professor at Holy Cross. "My guess is NASCAR will put an emphasis on the tracks it owns rather than the ones it doesn't. Given the decline over the past couple years, I wouldn't be surprised if they cut some venues from the schedule, and some of those tracks could be on the outside looking in."
NASCAR's other major track operator is publicly traded Speedway Motorsports Inc., which majority owner Sonic Financial Corp. of Concord, N.C., is trying to take private.