Racing Returns to Hampton this Weekend at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway
Hampton, VA – Towards the end of every race season drivers, crew, and some might experience some case of “burn out” when it comes to racing. When you stop and think about it, it is totally understandable. For four weeks a month, six months or more out of the year, guys and girls are thrashing on these race cars in some of the hottest and coldest conditions. We get it; everyone needs a good break to recharge the batteries, right? Then we get to the middle of February, everyone gets charged up from the Daytona 500 and is ready to get back to the racetrack. Well, that time has finally come and we are set to go racing this weekend at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway.
Six divisions and seven races are slated for Pomoco Auto Group Opening night at Langley Speedway and for those planning to make an entire day out it, you can find the race day schedule below. As usual general admission gates will open at 2:00 PM just in time for practice to get underway. Qualifying will follow at 4:30 PM with the green flag slated to drop approx. 7:00 PM EDT. Make sure you get there early to grab your seat for the show; you will not want to miss opening night.
This year is going to be a year like no other at the historic .395-mile oval, located just on the other side of the highway from Langley Air Force Base. With defending Late Model series Matt Waltz announcing he will not be returning to full-time competition in 2018, long time series veteran Mark Wertz announcing this will be his final full-time season behind the wheel, we are set up for a classic battle of the ages between drivers like Greg and Danny Edwards, Brenden Queen, Nick Smith, and Connor Hall – Youth vs. Experience.
“We want win number one-hundred, be a contender every week, and go out a champion,” Wertz told The Weekly Racer this week during an afternoon test session. “We reworked the entire car and upgraded a lot of stuff to try and make a full 110% effort. We will race more big races next year and pick and choose races. That keeps us out of the weekly points grind and stress.”
We asked Mark, who is not only a veteran Late Model racer but a Langley Speedway veteran holding back-to-back track championships along with two regional championships, if this youth movement in racing changed the way he looked at his final full-time season at his home track and what advice he might have for these young racers, can’t say that we were all that surprised with his answer, and that is a good thing.
“I view a car as a number,” Wertz went on to say. “Once the green drops I try to race it hard and as clean as I can with hopes that’s how I’m raced in return. Some numbered cars you might have a little memory of more than others or in other words precede with caution. As for the younger drivers coming along all I can say is
Stay focused on your dreams. Learn the car and how things work – action to reaction – try to understand a change and why you’re making it. Represent yourself as a gentleman, or a lady whichever it may be, represent your sponsors to the fullest if you want them to stay with you. Respect your crew and team and those who make it all happen. Most of all don’t show your tail, try to get out of the car and think about the situation and cool off before you go do something you regret later. Oh and always, always mention your sponsor’s name, contact info and what they are about don’t just say ‘I would like to thank my sponsors.’”
Connor Hall just happens to be one of those “Young Guns” moving up in the sport and really looking to make a name for himself in 2018. After collecting three wins last season under the “adult supervision” – and we might use that word loosely – of Mark Wertz and veteran spotter Dave Oshman with one of those wins came at his home track of Langley Speedway beating eventual track champ Matt Waltz and eventual national champ Lee Pulliam, Hall cannot wait to get back to the racetrack.
“Having the win here [Langley Speedway] as well as two other NASCAR tracks [Dominion and Carteret] has helped me build on my book of experience,” Hall told The Weekly Racer. “It has definitely helped me start to realize that I am starting to get to the crest of the learning curve. I ran well all last season and truly believe one or two most definitely slipped away however we are confident going into the 2018 season and I believe that we were a challenger last season for the win in most instances.”
Towards the end of last season Hall and Wertz formed somewhat of an unofficial teammate scenario with Mark stepping into a mentoring role or ‘crew chief’ as described by Hall in various post-race interviews. Seems like things sure did start to fire on all cylinders though towards the end of the year.
“I know I am racing some of Late Model Stock Cars best competition and some of the most experienced,” Hall went on to say when asked about the Youth vs. Veteran side of racing. “However, I do believe I will be the ‘young gun’ to watch this year!”
It is hard to talk about experience, champions, and seasoned veterans without making mention of the Edwards brothers – who actually hold ten Late Model Stock track championships between the two of them dating back as early as 1989. With that much experience on the race track between the two, won’t it is hard to count either of these veterans out of wins or even championships. Competing in his first Late Model Stock race in 1991 – just before some of the current class of drivers were even born – Poquoson, Virginia driver Greg Edwards realizes that he’s not getting any younger while most of his competition is, however, it won’t change how he races.
“It won’t change the way I race at all,” Edwards said when asked about some of these younger kids running late models this year but also went on to say he will help them grow in the sport as much as he can. “Yes, I’m not getting younger so it’s inevitable that younger people and kids are coming in so sure, I’ll help them all I can. I was there at one time so that’s great for the sport you know, I won’t be doing this forever so I want to win as many races as I can while I still can or possibly as many championships. I love the sport and I’ll help out anybody I can.”
Given the recent track record and success Greg has shown over the last couple years the 97.3 The Eagle car has to be on the top of your list of teams battling for the champion, I know he makes The Weekly Racer short list of contenders. We also asked Greg with the changes to the racing surface in the corners if that would affect much this year for him and his team, he seems to think that the track won’t be that much different.
There is only one true fire way to see if Greg is right about the racing surface, or if Connor Hall is the next hottest thing to come out of Langley Speedway and that is to be there this Saturday night when the green flag drops over the 2018 season. You don’t want to be that one person who misses out what could be a fairytale ending to one local driver’s legendary career, we will see you all trackside. Make sure to follow us on our Twitter feed @theweeklyracer to keep up with all the action throughout the night.
Pomoco Auto Group Night Schedule
2:00 PM GENERAL ADMISSION GATES OPEN
2:00 PM PRACTICE BEGINS
4:15 PM DRIVER’S MEETING
4:30 PM QUALIFYING
6:50 PM INVOCATION BY REV. POTTER / NATIONAL ANTHEM
7:00 PM 1ST RACE BEGINS
- CYCLE CITY CORP. Bandolero’s – 15 laps
- TAYLOR WASTE SERVICES Late Model Stock Cars – 75 laps
- CYCLE CITY CORP. Legend’s – 25 laps
- HARRIS TRUCK SHOP Super Trucks – 25 laps
- PEPSI Grand Stocks – 40 laps
- TAYLOR WASTE SERVICES Late Model Stock Cars – 75 laps
- BOJANGLES Enduros – 30 laps