Longs, SC - Jimmy Lang is the cool kid. You know, the first kid in high school to get a fast car. Problem is, Lang doesn't have a South Carolina driver's license and his car doesn't have a passenger seat. Not to mention, it's far from street legal.
Longs, SC - Jimmy Lang is the cool kid. You know, the first kid in high school to get a fast car. Problem is, Lang doesn't have a South Carolina driver's license and his car doesn't have a passenger seat. Not to mention, it's far from street legal. But where Lang is planning to drive in 2004, none of that will matter.
Lang, a 15-year-old from Bluffton, S.C., recently announced his plans to compete in the Southern Division of the Hooters ProCup Series and the $75,000 Miller Lite Rookie of the Year program.
"I'm pretty excited about this season," said Lang. "I've never done anything like this before. About the biggest thing I've ever raced was a Late Model."
But Late Models are not the only thing Lang has raced.
Lang has been driving anything with wheels on it since the age of four. And after turning 10, Lang began competing in World Karting Association events. In his first eight months of competitive racing, Lang notched wins at Cochran, Hortense and Vidalia Speedways and finished fourth and fifth in the World Karting Association Dirt Nationals.
Lang made a seamless transition from the low-slung racers to Legend cars in 2001, winning races at Hardeeville Motor Speedway and Lanier National Speedway. Lang also won two races in the "Thursday Thunder" series at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
In 2002, Lang continued to thrive in Legend events, racing in 70 times and picking up 19 wins. Astoundingly, Lang's wins came at eight different tracks, taking checkered flags at Albany Motor Speedpark (GA), DeSoto Speedway (FL), Atlanta Motor Speedway (GA), Lowe's Motor Speedway (NC), Cordele Motor Speedway (GA), Hardeeville Motor Speedway (SC) Lanier National Speedway (GA), and Twin Fountains Speedway (TN). Even more astounding is the fact that Lang didn't have one wreck in 2002. And that stat didn't go unnoticed.
Lang's aggressive-but-smart driving style caught the eye of Charlie Langenstein, post-race manager for Hendrick Motorsports.
"The key thing we saw with [Jimmy] was his smoothness," said Langenstein, who will serve as crew chief for Lang during his rookie campaign. "I've worked with other guys who were trying to set land-speed records on every lap, but Jimmy lets the car come to him.
"We took him to Hickory Motor Speedway to test a Late Model and within 20 laps he nearly got the track record," said Langenstein. "He wasn't out of control. He was smooth and had consistent lap times during the test."
When testing turned to racing, Lang, 14 at the time, was just as consistent-and fast. Lang picked up his first Late Model win in just his second start at Cordele Motor Speedway (GA). Now, Lang is facing his biggest challenge: competing against some of the best short-track drivers in the country. But Lang doesn't seem intimidated by the task at hand, and he already has set a goal.
"I want to be youngest rookie champion in the history of the USAR Hooter ProCup Series," Lang said of the record held by Hendrick Motorsports' driver Brian Vickers. "I think we can be a top-5 car. We've got Charlie Langenstein helping us.I pick up on things quick."
Lofty goals for a 15-year-old, but ones Langenstein believes the rookie driver can obtain.
"You have to respect veterans like Shane Huffman and Mardy Lindley, but he's not intimidated by veterans," said Langenstein. "He listens to me and is willing to try different things. We're just going to do our on program, and we should be good."
How good remains to be seen. But on thing is for certain, Jimmy Lang has the fastest car at Life Spring Christian Academy.