Goodyear 400, Myrtle Beach Classic highlighted as state sports tourism sector booms

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — As some of the world’s best golfers were teeing off in the final round play of the Myrtle Beach Classic, NASCAR drivers were revving up almost 90 miles away for the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway.

The overlapping events drew more than 100,000 people to the region and highlighted South Carolina’s rapidly growing sports tourism sector.

“We have things in South Carolina that they just dream about in other places,” Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday afternoon at a news conference to kick off SC Travel and Tourism Week.

Among those in attendance were Darlington Raceway President Jared Harris and Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce head Karen Riordan — both recognized for helping to pump tens of millions back into the economy by pushing hard for big-name sporting events.

Harris said Darlington Raceway annually pulls in fans from every state and 14 countries, generating more than $112 million in economic impact.

“Darlington Raceway is proud to be a major part of South Carolina’s sports tourism legacy, and we’re also proud to be a key driver of the future,” he said. “Today, NASCAR fans from all around the world make the Palmetto State a ca n’t-miss destination twice a year.”

Darlington Raceway will host the NASCAR season finale Cook Out Southern 500 on Sept. 1.

Meanwhile, Riordan said tourism leaders on the Grand Strand are still talking about the breakout success that was the Myrtle Beach Classic, which drew 40,000 fans to the Dunes Golf and Beach Club.

The FedEx Cup tournament was the most well-attended inaugural event in PGA Tour history.

“Our goal was to put on a great fan experience, as well as a great experience for these PGA pros so they’d want to come back again and again,” she said. “We do see that the Myrtle Beach Classic has the potential to be the significant sporting event on the Grand Strand for years to come.”

* * *

Adam Benson joined the News13 digital team in January 2024. He is a veteran South Carolina reporter with previous stops at the Greenwood Index-Journal, Post & Courier and The Sun News in Myrtle Beach. Adam is a Boston native and University of Utah graduate. Follow Adam on X, formerly Twitter, at @AdamNewshound12. See more of his work here.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WBTW.