General manager apologizes to fans, drivers and officials
From Times-Dispatch Resources
July 7, 2004
HAMPTON – The Langley Speedway flag flap is over for now. But questions remain, even though the ban on infield flags has been lifted.
It started Thursday when the track’s general manager, Brink Nelms, told Late Model Sportsman driver Paul DeBolt to take down an American flag flying on his hauler, which was parked in the infield pits.
Langley’s management had issued a rule June 21 banning all flags, banners and windsocks from being flown in the infield because they obstructed track patrons’ views.
Chief steward and race director Bryan Boyer told one source he was informed by an unnamed track employee that the ban actually was ordered by track owner Dwight Schaubach, who reportedly had been offended by someone flying a Confederate flag in the infield earlier this year. Schaubach denied the Confederate flag was a factor in his decision.
DeBolt wouldn’t take down the flag, and Nelms told Boyer to disqualify the driver. Boyer refused, receiving support from six other track officials and all 15 drivers in the race who threatened to boycott the event.
After a 40-minute delay, the race was run, though many in the grandstands already had left the track.
The following day, Boyer and the six supporting officials resigned from Langley.
Yesterday, Nelms issued a statement in which he apologized to drivers, officials and fans.
"As of today, I am lifting the flag-flying rule in the infield," Nelms said. "But I would like – as a courtesy to the fans who are watching the race – to have the flags below the roof line. [Not as a rule but as a request.]"
Attempts to reach a track spokesman for verification on whether the officials have been reinstated were unsuccessful.