"Fast Five" with Bobby Langley
Honoree at the 4th Annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion
Bowling Green, Ky.
June 16-18, 2006
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (April 3, 2006) Good ol' Bobby Langley of Everman, Texas, is one of the most colorful, popular and professional dragster racers to come out of the Lone Star state. His exploits and good nature have made him an Honoree at the 4th annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, held in Bowling Green, Ky., June 16-18.
Langley, who took a few moments to discuss his career, the Reunion and selection as an Honoree, began drag racing with a '38 Lincoln coupe at an NHRA Safety Safari meet in the mid-'50s, but soon built his first real dragster powered by a carbureted Cadillac. By 1957 he had switched to Chryslers and fuel with the first in a long line of Scorpion dragsters.
Langley was one of the first touring racers, traveling to a Smokers Meet at Bakersfield in November '58 then participating in the fabled first March Meet in 1959.
Bobby and Ruth Langley inseparable at the track and in life. Photos from the Langley collection.
He won 16 events running at every Texas drag strip, including five straight Texas Championships at Caddo Mills (1957-61) and a 1964 AHRA World Championship at Green Valley.
Bobby Langley's dragster was moving so fast, his tires caught on fire.
His fully uniformed crew won Best Appearing at both the 1957 and '58 NHRA Nationals. He ran a best of 7.02 and 214 mph before his retirement in 1969.
1. How does it feel to be named an Honoree for the 4th annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion? What does the Reunion mean to you?
Bobby Langley: I'm thrilled that 40 to 50 years later people would still remember me. To me, the Reunion is all about meeting with my old friends and making new ones. That's what makes it so special.
2. In your wildest dreams, did you think after you retired, people would honor your racing exploits decades later?
Langley: When I was racing in the '50s and '60s it was mostly for fun. I am surprised people come up to me today and say they remember the distinctive look of the car and the way the crew was dressed. The Scorpion was a popular car. It was in Life magazine twice! It was in the center of Car Craft. Lots of magazines ran articles and pictures. Drag News featured it.
3. What are some of your fondest and funniest memories about the good old days?
Langley: Back then we were out traveling, racing and having lots of fun. None of us had any money, so most of the time we stayed at each other's houses. My wife Ruth always went with me. So did the kids if they weren't in school. Ruth made shirts and won "best car and crew" awards. We had some laughs a few months ago when the wind blew off the canopy in the pits and the crew, gasp, had to pit in the open. We used to race in the open, pit in the open, had an open trailer and even bought a 55-gallon drum of nitro in Kansas and carried it home on a trailer rail!
Scorpion 1 - one of Bobby Langley's early cars.
We raced almost every weekend and went to 18 states even raced in Monterey, Mexico. We earned about 250 trophies. I remember the first $25 savings bond we won we had to cash in on Monday for groceries and parts.
4. Why do people enjoy the Hot Rod Reunions and vintage drag racing?
Langley: It's always fun to re-live the past. The stories only get better the second time around.
5. Do you still follow drag racing? What do think of today's drivers?
Langley: They are very talented. We watch all the races on ESPN and go to Ennis, Texas each fall. We're friends with many drivers and owners. Kenny Bernstein told me I was his 'hero' growing up. When I was inducted in the Hall of Fame in '92, Kenny turned 300 mph at the strip and then came to the banquet to introduce me. He's my hero!
The 4th annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion is a 3-day festival of speed, hot rods and American automotive enthusiasm. Produced by the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California and located in Pomona, Calif., the Reunion is part of the museum's "living history" philosophy, which works to bring to life the sights, sounds and people who made history in the early days of drag racing, land speed racing and the golden age of American car culture.
Unique among motorsports events, the Reunion honors some of the top names in hot rodding from the past and features a fabulous array of cool drag cars, street rods and customs of the historic and present-day hot rod eras.
Those purchasing their credentials at least two weeks before the event receive significant added value in Saturday's Parish Heacock Pit Pass Barbeque, a "goodie" bag and a colorful and collectible plastic souvenir credential. A junior credential has been added this year at only $10 for a three-day admission and the barbeque. Credentials are available at 1-800-884-NHRA or through an application on the Museum's web site at http://museum.nhra.com
Grand Marshal for the event will be Barbara Hamilton, first woman in NHRA history to get a license to drive supercharged cars. This year's honorees are Malcolm Durham, Bobby Langley, Gene and Ron Logghe, Jim Farr and Bill Roell known as "Short Round and Dauber" and Mike Spitzer. The Justice Brothers Reunion Spotlight award will shine on Top Fuel Pioneer Motorcycles. Those honored will be feted at a reception, Fri., June 16. It's open to the general public and free.
The Reunion features a wide variety of activities and events, including:
* Hot Heads Eliminator NHRA vintage drag racing, featuring some the sport's most famous and historic cars and drivers, racing in such classes at Top Fuel, Supercharged Gassers, classic Funny Cars and Super Stocks
* Street rod "show and shine," presented by SoffSeal, with thousands of gleaming pre-1972 hot rods, custom cars, classics and muscle cars. "Memory Lane" will have a display of nostalgic race cars.
* Cruise Night through historic Bowling Green on Thurs., June 15.
* National Hot Rod Reunion Reception, held at the Holiday Inn University Plaza's Bowling Green Convention Center ballroom on Friday evening, June 16. Open to everyone at no charge, it's a tribute to the Reunion's Grand Marshal and Honorees and a chance for fans to meet some of drag racing's heroes.
* Parish Heacock Pit Pass Barbeque on Saturday afternoon, June 17, in a special tent.
* Cacklefest on Saturday evening, where nitro-burning historic, front-engine top-fuel dragsters and other classic race cars are push started just like in the "old days."
* The Swap meet and Reunion Midway filled with manufacturer exhibits and demonstrations
* A separate amusement park with rides and games for all ages, including a
brand-new roller coaster, adjacent to the park.
Information, including a full activities schedule, entry forms and tickets, is available through the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum at http://museum.nhra.com or by sending a post card or note to NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, P.O. Box 2345, Pomona, Calif. 91769. Requests can be emailed to email@example.com.
Proceeds of the Holley Hot Rod Reunion, presented by DuPont Automotive Finishes, will benefit the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum. Named for the founder of the National Hot Rod Association, the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, houses the very roots of hot rodding. Scores of famous vehicles spanning American motorsports history are on display, including winning cars representing more than half a century of drag racing, dry lakes and salt-flat racers, oval track challengers and exhibits describing their colorful backgrounds.
The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, is located at Fairplex Gate 1, 1101 W. McKinley Ave. in Pomona, Calif. For further information call 909/622-2133 or visit http://museum.nhra.com.