THE THRILL OF THE HUNT STILL ENTICES LANG
To many NHRA Sportsman drag racing fans, the name Jody Lang is one they've heard often before. And for the few who do not know the name, they have surely seen his trusty '81 Chevy Malibu station wagon turn on win lights on the track.
During a racing career that has spanned more than 30 years, Lang has been able to establish himself as one of the most successful Stock and Super Stock racers in the world. His resume includes 29 NHRA national event victories in 45 final-round appearances, a national event double (winning two different classes at the same national event), and multiple NHRA Pacific Northwest Division championships and Top 10 finishes in the national standings.
However, one accomplishment continues to allude him: Winning a national championship.
Lang got his championship hopes off to great start this year by winning Stock at the NHRA Arizona Nationals in Phoenix. It was his fourth career victory at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, a track that has treated him very well throughout his racing career.
"I'm not sure why I do well there. In fact, the first national event win of my career came in Phoenix [in 1996]," said Lang, who races out of Puyallup, Wash., and calls Pacific Raceways his home track. "I don't do anything different there than at any other event. We prepare the same way and try to follow the same schedule."
Lang has been racing in both classes since 2005 after adding a second '81 Malibu to his arsenal to run in Super Stock, joining the Malibu wagon Stocker that he has been running since 1992 and which he drove to his first NHRA divisional event victory in 1993.
Lang prefers running two cars at an event because it keeps him busy at the track and increases his chances of winning.
"The reason I run two cars is because it allows me to step up and take another swing during the event," he said. "It can get hectic toward the later rounds, but we maintain a good schedule to service and jump from car to car."
In order to run both cars at an event, Lang relies on the help of his girlfriend, Martha Thompson, who keeps track of the weather, and the support of great companies and sponsors, including Lucas Oil, Dave Barcelon's Truck Town, and Freeway Trailer Sales.
Growing up, Lang always enjoyed seeing drag racers on TV and at his local track, and in 1985 he decided to cut his racing teeth at bracket events with a '69 Chevelle that he still owns and occasionally races. He quickly found out back then that racing was a good way to feed his competitive nature.
"I grew up playing sports and was always drawn to all types of competitions," said Lang. "If there was a way for me to do it, I'd race the Chevelle as well, but racing three cars at one event is too hard."
For now, Lang will continue to concentrate on winning his first NHRA national championship. After freshening the engine in his Super Stocker during the off-season and having a new engine installed in the Stocker later this year, he is ready to do whatever is necessary to secure the world title.
"I love racing cars. I enjoy going after it every year," he said. "After more than 30 years, I still feel just as excited as I did the first I went down the track. I will keep competing and chasing the title as long as it keeps being fun."