Darlington Raceway announces University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball Head Coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, Dawn Staley, will lead the field to green as the Honorary Pace Car Driver for the Cook Out Southern 500 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race on Sept. 4.
“Dawn Staley is a true basketball legend that has achieved monumental success as both a player and coach throughout her collegiate and professional career,” said Kerry Tharp, Darlington Raceway President. “We are proud to welcome Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, four-time Olympic Gold Medalist, and two-time National Champion Coach Dawn Staley, back to Darlington Raceway for a Too Tough To Tame experience as the Honorary Pace Car Driver for the Cook Out Southern 500.”
“I can’t wait to get back on the track again! My first time at a NASCAR event was when I was invited to Darlington after our 2017 National Championship, and, now that I know what I’m in for, I can’t wait to get back,” said Dawn Staley. “The staff, the drivers and the fans are so welcoming and connected – just like women’s basketball fans are to their teams – and that’s energy I’m always happy to be associated with.”
Dawn Staley has made the University of South Carolina Gamecocks a mainstay in the battle for Southeastern Conference (SEC) and national championships. Under her leadership, the Gamecocks have reached many firsts – National Championships (2017, 2022), four NCAA Final Fours (2015, 2017, 2021, 2022), two seasons with the final No. 1 ranking (2019-20, 2021-22), six SEC regular-season (2014-17, 2020, 2022) and tournament titles (2015-2018, 2020-2021), Players of the Year, National Players of the Year, WNBA No. 1 Draft pick and No. 1 recruiting classes – to name the most notable.
Staley is recognized for her body of work as a one of the most decorated participants in United States women’s basketball history. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame solidified that legacy with her enshrinement as part of the Class of 2013. The Phoenix Club of Philadelphia established the Dawn Staley Award recognizing the nation’s top guard in women’s Division I basketball in 2013 as well. Staley was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2012 and was one of the final nominees for induction to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame the same year. In the summer of 2011, the WNBA recognized her as one of the league’s “Top 15,” honoring the most influential players in the league’s history.
Staley was named the U.S. Women’s National Team head coach for 2017-21, leading the U.S. to 2018 FIBA World Cup gold to earn USAB National Coach of the Year honors that year, adding gold medals at the 2019 and 2021 FIBA AmeriCups and stretching the U.S. Olympic gold medal streak to seven straight at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, for which she again earned Coach of the Year honors. Prior to that appointment, Staley led three other U.S. teams to gold medals – 2015 FIBA U19 World Championships, 2014 FIBA U18 Americas Championship, 2007 Pan Am Games – and served as an assistant on the Senior National Team 2006-08 and again 2014-16, during which the U.S. claimed gold in the 2014 FIBA World Championship and the 2008 and 2016 Olympics.
To learn more about Dawn Staley, visit her University of South Carolina Athletics page here.
— Darlington Raceway —