Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia has a long history of attracting many of the greatest stock car drivers in the world, while also building foundations for many successful careers in auto racing. Completed in 1953, the track has served as a host for both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series to along with its successful weekly series, with some of its more notable alumni including Elton Sawyer and 2016 Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin.
Although Langley has not had a major NASCAR event at the track since 1988, the track’s weekly series has continued to thrive in the three decades following NASCAR’s exit, with 11 different divisions being featured at the track during the 2017 season. Bandoleros, Legends, UCARs, and Grand Stocks all shared the track with Langley’s prestigious Late Model division, which saw Newport News, Virginia native Matt Waltz win the 2017 championship by 13 points over Greg Edwards.
The 2018 season will feature a new Late Model champion at Langley, as Waltz has elected to retire from full-time racing in order to focus on running his family business. Several drivers are expected to compete for Langley’s Late Model championship during the grueling 29-race schedule, among them being Connor Hall, who finished fifth in the track’s Late Model standings last season.
The Hampton, Virginia native is not the first member of his family to become a racer, as his father carved out a successful career for himself competing in boat racing around the country. The younger Hall’s racing career started out on land when he began competing in BMX bicycles at eight years old, but Hall had no aspirations of becoming the next Ricky Carmichael.
“I got into BMX right around that time when your parents become your obligation to do something,” Hall said. “I raced a couple of times in BMX, and then I got a go-kart when I was nine years old. My dad started dragging me to the go-kart track, and I realized that it was true racing, and that’s when I really got into it.”
Hall’s success in go-karts eventually allowed him to move up through the ranks and into a Late Model, where he made his debut at Langley in 2014. After earning only one Top 5 in his first season, Hall quickly showed improvement in his second year, as he scored eight Top 5’s in 18 starts, which allowed him to finish 12th in the Virginia region of the 2015 Whelen All-American Series standings.
Over the past couple of years, Hall has been gradually expanding his Late Model schedule along the east coast, as he has frequently competed at both Langley and Dominion Raceway, but has also visited several tracks in North Carolina, including Southern National Motorsports Park and Caraway Speedway. Hall has also attempted to gain experience in several prestigious Late Model events, as he has made two starts in the Thanksgiving All-Star Classic, and three attempts in the Hampton Heat 200, where he picked up a Top 10 finish in 2017.
Hall admitted that he has spent most of his time racing Late Models in North Carolina as of late, but added that Langley is his favorite track to race at, and is looking forward to racing for the Late Model championship at the track this season.
“I only live 15 minutes from Langley,” Hall said. “It’s where I got my roots as a driver, plus most people have to travel two or three hours to find good competition, while I have a stacked field to race against only a few miles from my house.”
Unlike other tracks he has competed on, Hall stated that Langley’s surface is almost completely flat with large, sweeping corners, and that drivers have to be patient with their equipment early if they want to have a chance at victory in the final laps. Hall stressed that Langley is a track that will push any driver to their limits, and that anyone who can contend for the win at Langley can battle for victories at any other short track.
Hall’s quest for his first championship at Langley will begin on a challenging note, as the Pomco Auto Group Opening Night has already attracted many talented Late Model drivers, including four-time Langley track champion C.E. Falk III, and four-time Whelen All-American Series champion Philip Morris. Hall understands that presence of Morris, Falk and many others will only add to the difficulty that Langley already presents, and will put more emphasis on maintaining strong track position for both 75-lap features.
“It’s a twin feature, so you can run your car hard both races if you think it’s that good,” Hall said. “You also have the option of not running as hard in the first race so that you can set yourself up for the pole in the second race. It will take a very good qualifying spot in order to have a chance at victory in the first race, and the ability to have a good enough car to the point where you can pace yourself in the first race will be important for the second 75.”
Hall has an eventful schedule planned for the 2018 season, as he will compete in 40 Late Model races along the east coast, with his ultimate goal being to secure the Late Model championship at his home track. There are also plans for Hall to run up to three races in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division, but he stated that many details were still being worked out, with an official announcement expected later in the year.