First Impressions Ė Langley Speedway, Virginia
By Larry Burnett
Hello race fans, and welcome to ďFirst Impressions,Ē my ongoing column recalling race tracks that Iíve recently visited for the first time. This week: Langley Speedway in Hampton , Virginia .
OK, technically, Iím cheating a little, since I only live a few miles from the track and have been there before (although itís been a couple years). But since itís been a while, I took in the track as though it was my first time I want to share my impressions with you from a fanís perspective for anyone whoís never been and maybe wants to take a trip.
First off, the location. Langley speedway is located in the city of Hampton , right next to NASA Langley Research Center and Langley Air Force Base. Anyone who might be familiar with Langley Research Center will know that quite a bit of research is done there for air and space, and that it houses a lot of wind tunnels, both large and small. In fact, before the NASCAR Cup season starts, a few of the teams have been known to use some of those wind tunnels to improve the aerodynamics on their cars.
And then thereís the history. Langley Speedway, once known as Langley Field Speedway, also hosted the NASCAR Cup series in the 1960s and early 1970s. Names like Petty and Pearson have visited Victory Lane here. Langley still runs today, and thanks to its long history, it has the great support of the local community.
Now letís look at the facilities. Langley is a neat track, with a very unique grandstand area. Everyone who buys a ticket walks through a white picket fence under a canopy. When they get in, what they see seems almost like a fairgrounds atmosphere. Itís not huge, itís not full of rides and displays, but just the layout gives a certain ďfeelĒ to it. Kids have a small playground, the concessions are easy to get to, there are picnic tables and benches for fans to relax and eat their burgers before heading into the stands. Thereís even a small lounge filled with memorabilia and pictures of drivers from past and present.
And finally, the track itself. Langley is a .395 mile, slightly banked paved oval. The pits are outside of the track for most divisions, but the premier division (late models) pits are in the infield. Itís an interesting arrangement, but one that they do right compared to some tracks Iíve seen. The competitors bring the haulers in, unload the cars and the gear, and before racing starts, the haulers are removed from the infield. This gives the fans an almost completely unobstructed view of the entire race track.
Theyíve scheduled a couple of 200 lap, big money races this year. Car counts should be big, and after my recent visit, it may be another track Iíll have to hit again.