Thursday, August 4, 2005
Langley Speedway hosts Tommy Ellis Night this Saturday
by Race Author
HAMPTON, Va. -- One Langley Speedway legend will be honored and another will rejoin the Late Model fray this Saturday, August 6, as the track resumes its 2005 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series slate with Tommy Ellis Night.
This week’s feature lineup includes: Chick-fil-A Late Models (75 laps); Super 8 Motels Grand Stocks (40 laps); nTelos Super Streets (50 laps); Hillco Building Maintenance Mini Trucks (25 laps); and, E-Z Auto Rental U-Cars (25 laps).
Gates open at 12 noon and practice starts at 1:30 p.m. Time trials begin at 4 and pre-race festivities commence at 6:30. The first feature event goes green at 7.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children, 6-12. “Little Race Fans” (under 6) are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Also, there’s no charge for military members in uniform. “Family Packs,” which include two adult and two children’s tickets, are $25 — a savings of $5. Individual skybox seating is available for $25. There is no charge for parking.
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As part of Saturday’s pre-race activities, Langley’s pit road will be re-dedicated to Tommy Ellis, the track’s all-time winningest driver with 100 victories (give or take). The original pit road dedication took place in 1989. Over the years, though, all vestiges of the designation disappeared. That situation will be rectified on Saturday.
For the uninitiated, here’s a little background info on Ellis: He was born on August 8, 1947, in Richmond, Va., and began working on stock cars as a teen. His behind-the-wheel career started in 1968 and, within a couple years, he had advanced to the Late Model Sportsman division, the forerunner of today’s NASCAR Busch Series, winning two races in his first season.
For a few seasons, Ellis raced three nights a week, competing at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Langley and South Boston (Va.) Speedway, racking up 20+ victories during several of those campaigns. He earned the national Late Model Sportsman championship in 1981.
Over the course of his career, Ellis claimed more than 300 wins, including 22 on the modern-day (post-1981) Busch tour. He was the Busch Series champion in 1988. His last Busch victory came in the Budweiser 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway in 1990. He ran selected events from 1991 to 1994 to complete his career.
Between 1976 and 1991, Ellis also made 78 starts in NASCAR’s Winston (now Nextel) Cup Series. The highlight of his stint in the Cup series came in 1981 when he scored a fourth-place finish (behind Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison and Ricky Rudd) in the National 500 at Charlotte (now Lowe’s) Motor Speedway.
Currently, Ellis is the owner of the Buzz Thru car wash chain, headquartered on Midlothian Turnpike in the Richmond area. He and his wife, Brenda, are the parents of three sons — Donnie, Ronnie and Teddy.
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While Ellis celebrates his racing accomplishments on Saturday, another longtime Langley standout, Phil Warren of Norfolk, Va., will be looking to add a new chapter to his.
A winner of multiple Late Model Stock Car championships at Langley, Warren has also claimed LMSC titles at Southside Speedway and Southampton Motor Speedway. He earned a NASCAR regional championship in 1995. In 2001, he was the winner of the Taco Bell 300 at Martinsville Speedway — generally acknowledged to be the “Super Bowl” of Late Model Stock Car racing.
Warren is scheduled to slip behind the wheel of the #41 Chevrolet for this week’s Late Model 75-lapper. His new ride is a team car to the #40 Dodge of two-time and defending track and regional champ Mark Wertz.
If he can make his way to the front in Saturday’s event, Warren could be chasing a familiar face to the checkered flag. His son, Anthony, will be shooting for his third straight win this weekend.
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Late Model points leader Tommy Cherry of South Mills, N.C., merited a special mention when NASCAR released this week’s Dodge Weekly Series divisional standings. Cherry currently ranks fourth in the Division I rundown and has climbed three spots in just the last two weeks.
Cherry’s effort is being greatly aided by Langley’s strong Late Model car count, for which he (and all Langley Late Model drivers) earn bonus points in the divisional tabulation. So far, in 2005, the healthy Late Model turnout has resulted in 290 bonus points out of a possible 300.
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Langley’s weekly “test and tune” session is scheduled for this evening. Pit gates open at 4 p.m. and practice rounds run from 5 ‘til dark. Drivers and teams in all six of the track’s regular divisions may participate in this week’s practice.
Pit admission is $10 with a valid NASCAR, INEX or Langley Speedway license. For those without a current competition license, entry into the pit area is $20. There is no charge for grandstand admission.
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In the midst of its best season in recent years, Langley Speedway has taken a step to share that success with more of its drivers in the form of the postseason points fund payout.
Initially slated to include the top five finishers in each division, the revised points fund plan will now take in the sixth- through 10th-place finishers as well. Michael Hill, the track’s marketing development manager, made the announcement at last Saturday’s drivers meeting.
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Geoffrey Bodine’s appearance at Langley Speedway last week will be featured on tonight’s edition of “NASCAR Nation,” which will air at 7 p.m. on the SPEED Channel.
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The tricycle race, which had been planned for last Saturday, was postponed after late-day showers jumbled the evening’s schedule. The event has been rescheduled for Saturday, August 20, as part of a fund-raiser for the Victory Junction Gang Camp being organized by track chaplain, the Rev. Tom Potter.
Ten 4- and 5-year-olds will be selected to compete for a brand-new trike. Each contestant will be paired with a Late Model driver for a relay race. The winner will get to keep his or her tricycle, while the other trikes will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the Victory Junction Gang Camp. LongWill Construction is sponsoring the event.
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Looking ahead on the Langley Speedway calendar, the track will play host to Dodge Night at the Races on Saturday, August 13. That evening’s lineup features Late Models, Grand Stocks, Super Streets, Cook’s Moving Service INEX Legends and All-Star Race Trucks. The HRKC Winged Pro Champ Karts will be in action during pre-race activities.
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A longtime member of the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series, Langley Speedway is a .395-mile, slightly-banked oval. The track is located at 11 Dale Lemonds Dr., off Armistead Ave., in Hampton, Va.
To learn more about Langley Speedway and its schedule of upcoming events, fans may call the Speedway office at (757) 865-RACE or visit the track’s Web site — www.langley-speedway.com.