Racing has gone through quite a few changes since Danny Edwards won his first late model championship at Virginia’s Langley Speedway in 1989.
Technology has made it so getting parts for cars is as easy as making a quick phone call, whereas 30 years ago Edwards said most parts he would have to build or make himself. There’s also much more engineering involved in the building of the cars.
Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway, a 0.396-mile slightly banked asphalt oval in Hampton, Virginia, has also seen its share of changes, from remodels to repaves, the addition of concrete barriers, skyboxes and grandstands.
But one thing that hasn’t changed in the last three decades is Edwards’s ability to win.
Edwards won his sixth championship at Langley last year, 29 years after winning his first. The championship puts him one away from driver Phil Warren, who holds the record with seven titles.
While some competitors shy away from talking about going for records, Edwards embraces the idea fully. He said the track record will be on his mind every race this season.
“Obviously that’s kind of what we do it for,” he said. “We do it to win races and we do it to win championships, and to have fun as well. We don’t do it for a living. It’s not our full-time job. That puts us at a little bit of a disadvantage to the guys that do. The guys that have the time to spend working on their cars day-in and day-out as a full-time job. It gives them a little advantage there, but we still have the passion and want to go out there and be competitive and win races and ultimately win championships.”
Going into 2018, Edwards and his brother, Greg, were tied with five titles each before Danny Edwards, now 51 years old, was able to break the tiebreaker.
Greg will likely be his brother’s biggest competition on the track this season, with both racing out of the same garage with that record on their minds.
“It’s going to be a tough year. My brother, Greg, is always in the points and he’s a tough competitor. It’s going to be a tough road this year,” Edwards said.
Edwards began racing motocross dirt bikes as a teenager, but got the opportunity to drive a street stock car sponsored by his dad’s company in 1984, and moved up to a late model three years later. He tried to make racing a full-time job for about three years in the 1990s, running 10 races in what is now NASCAR’s Xfinity Series. Eventually he made his way back to his home track, and has been a staple there in the late model division ever since.
The one thing Edwards said hasn’t changed that time is on the track.
“As far as the racing, it’s always racing,” he said. “Things look different, cars look a little different. The racing, through the time, although it has changed it didn’t seem like a huge progression as you’re doing it. It was just year after year things looked a little bit different. Nothing major throughout the years unless you look at it from beginning to end. It’s different but it’s the same.
“The facility and race surface (at Langley) has always been known to be a tough place to race at, and it still is, regardless of how many upgrades and changes that have come around the last 30-plus years.”
And keeping up with his younger competitors hasn’t been an issue for Edwards either. While they may have the benefits of more youthful energy, he has the advantage where it counts.
“It just takes a lot of hard work and effort. The things that I guess I have to my advantage is just the experience,” he said. “The younger guys definitely have the advantage with the youth behind them and energy and stamina and things like that, I try to stay in shape the best I can, but at 51 years old it’s a little tougher. So what we have to do is we try to stay on top of our game and use our experience to benefit us the best and keep going.
“I just keep going and doing what I do, always working on the cars and doing work and trying to stay busy and keep focused, and it’s been successful for us to do that.”
Langley will kick off the 2019 season this Saturday with late models, grand stocks, super trucks, legends and bandeleros.
The short term goal for Edwards is to win the race this weekend and every weekend, or at least run the best he can to get as many points as possible.
He’s hoping he and his team can piggy-back off of the success they saw in their championship run a year ago. If they can, it’ll help their long term goal, and hopefully put a new name in the Langley Speedway record books.
“I’m just excited to get back at it after having a good season last year,” he said. “Just trying to pick up where we left off and hope we’re in good shape to repeat. It’s going to be tough but I feel like we’re in a good position after a successful year last year. If we can just kind of build on that and keep that rolling, that’s what I’m looking forward to.
“Obviously going out and winning the championship is the goal, but for me at least I could never say that’s what we’re going to do. You have to do all the right things and everything has to kind of mesh up and everything has to work out in order for that to happen, so we’re just going to work toward that and hope by the end of the season we’re there.”