In 11 years at Evergreen Speedway, Naima Lang drove one super late model that won multiple championships.
Now, Lang’s son, Tyson, is driving that car, and looking for a title of his own.
The two are both competing in the Speedway Chevrolet Super Late Models division at Evergreen Speedway, a 0.375-mile semi-banked asphalt oval track that is the only NASCAR Whelen All-American Series sanctioned track in Washington. Naima is currently second in the points at the track, and Tyson is 12th; the younger Lang leads in the track and state’s rookie of the year race.
Naima has won five championships overall at the Monroe, Washington track. His most recent Super Late Model title came in 2016. He started his career when he was in his early 30s, with no experience racing before that. A friend started racing in 2000, and Naima helped on his crew. He eventually bought that car, and that’s when his racing career began.
“I didn’t race anything early on but dirt bikes here and there. But nothing on four wheels or any kind of racing what so ever. I just liked cars and motor sports and stuff,” he said. “My father-in-law, he raced out there for years and years and he was able to come and help out and it just kind of went from there.”
Naima drove his last car for 11 years, and it served him well. But after building a brand new car this offseason, that former championship ride was up for grabs.
And Naima’s son was there for the taking.
“It was weird because I never expected him to drive that car,” Naima said. “I wasn’t even thinking about letting him drive it. I just assumed someone else was going to take it but he just decided he wanted to try it.”
Tyson, who celebrated his 17th birthday on July 27, raced for the first time last season, driving in the hornets division at Evergreen. While he has very little experience driving, Tyson’s natural ability behind the wheel has shown early in his career.
“He went out to try it, him and grandpa were teaming up together and they’ve been having a lot of fun,” Naima said of Tyson. “He’s picked it up really good. I guess it’s just natural driving.”
“I think it’s going pretty good,” Tyson said. “Just trying to keep my nose clean every race, and if I do I know I’ll probably come out and be right there and come out with the top guys at the end of the race.”
Tyson, like his dad, wasn’t as into racing when he was younger. — “I remember just watching him win a lot. That’s the biggest thing I remember.” — but it wasn’t until he got the chance to get behind the wheel himself that he decided to to follow in his dad’s footsteps.
“I started watching him when I was little,” Tyson said. “I liked to watch him but I wasn’t really that into it. And I started racing hornets and I’ve liked it ever since. I like the adrenaline.”
The only problem with having two Langs on the track at the same time is they’re not able to watch each other. For Tyson, that means he isn’t able to learn from his dad like he used to. And for Naima, it means he isn’t able to watch as a dad.
The two drivers try to keep things separate when it comes to their individual cars and crews. Naima does try to teach Tyson as much as he can though.
“Just overall knowing the car. He doesn’t know if the car is tight or loose or what’s wrong with it,” Naima said. “Just trying to get explanations to him for what the car is doing. Sometimes I have to jump in it to confirm what he’s saying, but he’s learning. He’s getting it all down slowly but surely.”
“He tells me just to stay patient and just not try to win it on the first lap, save tires and stuff like that,” Tyson said.
As long as Tyson gets seat time and stays out of trouble and safe, that’s all Naima really cares about. The hope is the younger Lang can keep progressing and possibly get into a better car next year.
For Naima, he would like to continue putting his new car to the test, and keep getting wins.
Tyson has very specific goals for this year, and it includes a trip to Charlotte for the NASCAR banquet.
“My dad, I have pretty big shoes to fill. He’s won the track championship five times there, so it’d be cool for him to get a sixth and me to get rookie of the year and go back to North Carolina together,” Tyson said.
NASCAR racing will return to Evergreen Speedway this Saturday night for the Rory Price Memorial Presented by BARDAHL, featuring Evergreen Super Sprints, Outlaw F8, youth hornets, and late models.