By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
Not many people in the NASCAR universe are as charismatic or genuinely liked as Kerry Tharp.
Tharp, who has served admirably as NASCAR’s Senior Director of Communications for several seasons, will move to a new job as Darlington Raceway’s track president starting Juky 1st, the track announced with a press release on Wednesday.
The always engaging Tharp vows to carry on the historic tradition of one of NASCAR’s oldest tracks.
“I am deeply humbled and honored to have this opportunity,” Tharp said. “I love the state of South Carolina and its people. I know how special Darlington Raceway is to this state and to the sport of NASCAR. The track’s rich tradition, history, and popularity resonate with the competitors, partners, media and most importantly the fans. I look forward to working with our team to help keep Darlington as one of our sport’s crown jewels.”
Tharp is a Kentucky-native, who spent 20 years as the Associate Atheltic Director for Media Relations at the University of South Carolina. After 26 total years of working in intercollegiate athletics, Tharp moved to NASCAR in 2005.
Now Tharp takes over a job that Chip Wile recently parlayed into the track president position at Daytona International Speedway.
Under Wile, the track began a new throwback initiative, something that ISC’s executive Vice President and COO Joie Chitwood explains Tharp will undoubtedly continue on.
“These are exciting times for Darlington Raceway and Kerry Tharp is the perfect person to lead one of the most historic tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit,” Chitwood said. “His appreciation of our sport, knowledge of the industry and passion for South Carolina are unmatched. Kerry will do a great job leading the Darlington Raceway team and continuing to build upon their celebrated throwback marketing campaign.”
NASCAR’s David Higdon announced that Matt Ciesluk will be promoted to Tharp’s former role.
Mike Forde will take on the role of Director of Racing Communications, and Stephanie Harris will be the Senior Manager of Content Communications for the sanctioning body.