NASCAR: Josh Harris named president of Darlington Raceway

Josh Harris had dreams of one day becoming one of NASCAR’s track presidents.

On Saturday, it finally became official as Harris was officially introduced as the new president of Darlington Raceway, one of the sport’s iconic venues. He is the 10th president in track history.

The 41-year-old takes over for Kerry Tharp, who is retiring at the end of the year. Tharp had been the track’s president since 2016. His last race as president will be Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500.

“I’m certainly excited but also grateful and humble for the opportunity to step into this role,” Harris told The State. “I think my background in the sport for the past 12 years at Daytona and Talladega has certainly put me in a position to be ready for this challenge.”

Tharp, the former South Carolina sports information director, said Harris is the right man to succeed him.

“This is one of the most historic racetracks in motorsports and I am certain it will be in great hands,” he said. “Josh has already proven himself as a tremendous leader in NASCAR. He is tireless, passionate, strategic and ready to lead the Track Too Tough to Tame into its next era of success.”

Harris has been Darlington Raceway’s vice president of business operations since January but has been in the sport for more than a decade. The Mississippi native grew up going to races at Talladega where he first fell in love with the sport.

Harris has worked at Talladega and Daytona superspeedways before moving up to Southeast Region vice president of ticketing and guest services, and then Southeast Region vice president of client and event experience.

It was at Daytona, working alongside former Darlington president Chip Wile, where he got the desire to possibly move up to be president one day.

“I knew when the opportunity was presented to me last year to join the team in my current role that being a president might present itself down the road,” Harris said. “It happened a little sooner than we thought, but Kerry has earned the right to step away and enjoy retirement.

“I’m honored to step into the role next year.”

Harris said has learned a lot working under Tharp the past few months and hopes to maintain the success and momentum Darlington has enjoyed the past several years.

Darlington had an uncertain future more than a decade ago but now is in good footing in the industry. The track, which hosted just one race a year from 2005-19. hosts two races a year. One of the weekends is the annual throwback weekend in May. This year’s throwback weekend, held in May, welcomed 33 veteran drivers to help honor NASCAR’s 75th anniversary.

The Labor Day race weekend has been the opening race of the playoffs since 2020.

“It is in a really good position,” Harris said. “Kerry has taken care of this place in a phenomenal way. I look forward to easing into it, being able to grow, learn and put my stamp on it down the road.”

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Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The (Columbia) State and (Hilton Head) Island Packet. He previously worked at the Florence Morning News and had covered high school sports in South Carolina since 2002. Lou is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.
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