After sitting dormant for a year, racing fans in the Southeastern Virginia area are ready for the gates to reopen at the historic Langley Speedway (VA) in Hampton, Virginia. That will happen this Saturday when the track opens for its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season opener.
Without racing at Langley, race fans weren’t the only ones begging for the track to re-open. Drivers were scattered around the area after their home track closed with no set date to re-open, but now they have their home back.
During the dormant year, drivers traveled to tracks such as Dominion Raceway (VA), South Boston Speedway (VA), East Carolina Motor Speedway (NC) and Southern National Motorsports Park (NC) to compete. While these tracks provided great action and a home-like atmosphere for the Langley regulars, there truly is nothing like home sweet home.
For Wertz, the 2003 and 2004 Late Model Stock champion at Langley, coming home means coming back to the track he has won at 29 times after a year away, but it also means a change in schedule, as Wertz told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
“Being back at Langley should improve quality of life a little; my Sundays were pretty shot last season, after either traveling all night to get back or having to get a hotel room out in South Boston,” Wertz said.
“I’m glad its re-opening not only for the community, fans and history of the track but also for the drivers who have had their cars sitting around for a year. We are finally able to race at home again and represent our sponsors back at home now.”
Wertz went on to explain how the closure and re-open could be the best thing to happen to the track.
“It felt like Langley was sort of being taken for granted and getting stale, like it was one of those things we always got do but I think the fact that it closed and is now being re-opened shows that it might not always be there and that we should cherish it a little more.”
Enduro driver Mike Kanary had to travel to East Carolina last year to compete in their Bomber division, but will return to the Enduro division at Langley this season. He explained why he is excited about the upcoming season.
“It’s going to be a blast coming back home to Langley. It will be exciting to see all my old friends and all of us back racing in what is essentially our backyard.” Kanary remarked.
“Langley’s re-opening will be great for a lot of the local drivers, especially in our division where we operate on limited budgets, travel costs can really begin to mount up over a summer like we had last season but we will also enjoy getting home before 3 a.m.”
Kanary also believes the re-opening could help increase participation.
“Having a track back in the Hampton Roads area will stir up excitement for the fans and the local racing community and has the potential to spawn more drivers in our division.”
Justin Carroll, a Williamsburg, Virginia native competed at both East Carolina and Dominion last season, running 17 races at each track leading to a top 20 finish in both North Carolina and Virginia NWAAS points. This year, he is looking forward to coming back to Langley where he finished 11th in track points in 2015, prior to the track’s closing.
“It’s a good feeling,” Carroll said. “We’ve been extremely busy this year and Langley re-opening makes it so much easier time wise to make it to the race track and it just really feels like home there.”
Defending Langley Speedway Modified champion Shawn Balluzzo sees the re-opening of Langley as a return to normalcy, and an answer to all the questions he fielded throughout the last season.
“It’s a great feeling to come back, almost like everything is back in place. When Langley was closed, all I would hear from people was ‘Will Langley open again?’ and I always told them it would but it was strange because I had no clue what to do on Saturdays. It was almost like we were all lost.”
Fans and drivers are eagerly awaiting Saturday, almost like kids on Christmas morning, with their most coveted present under the tree. On Saturday, they get to see that present again.
Speed51.com will have live Trackside Now coverage of the re-opening of Langley Speedway.
Racing at Langley will begin at 7 p.m. ET Saturday with grandstands opening at 2 p.m. and on tap will be 15 Laps for the Bandoleros, 40 Laps for Super Streets, 25 Laps for Legends, 100 Laps for Late Model Stock Cars and 25 Laps for Super Trucks.
-By Reese Nobles, Speed51.com Mid-Atlantic Correspondent – Twitter: @RNoblesSpeed51
-Photo credit: Langley Speedway Facebook