Langley Speedway Fan Club small, but effective | 757-247-4963

HAMPTON — When legendary Langley Speedway spotter K.P. "Hook" Harrell died unexpectedly in June with no life insurance, friends like Greg Edwards and Wayne Wyatt acted very quickly to arrange and finance the funeral. They received ample assistance from the Langley Speedway Fan Club, which cut Edwards a $1,300 check shortly thereafter to reimburse him for some of the money he fronted.

"The Fan Club is amazing," said Edwards, the track's Late Model Division points leader. "I appreciate that gesture and I know the whole Harrell family appreciates it.

"It's what race fans do, because they're the best fans in the world. We see it time and time again: They do what they have to do to help out."

Wyatt, a former track owner, added, "I really didn't know what the Fan Club did before Harrell died. They stepped forward and covered almost half of (the funeral expenses) and still plan to pay some more.

"It's amazing the amount of work Jim Hicks and them do. The only thing they get for it is a pat on the back and the satisfaction of knowing they help people."

Hicks, the club president, doesn't even really care that much about the pat on the back.

"I feel good about what we're doing and I've had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people," Hicks said.

Hicks was one of the founders of the Fan Club in the 1990s and has pretty much been its driving force ever since. When Dale Earnhardt died in 2001, Hicks and the track arranged for four NASCAR stars – Michael Waltrip, Steve Park, Kenny Wallace and Kerry Earnhardt – to race at Langley for charity.

Hicks worked so hard and long that day he ended up in the hospital with heat stroke. That didn't bother him nearly as much as someone stealing the banner the drivers autographed that the Fan Club planned to sell for charity.

The club has raised tens of thousands of dollars for hundreds of charities over the years: St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital, the Childrens Hospital of the King's Daughters among them. The Fan Club spearheads the track's annual drive for school supplies and uses 50-50 raffles to raise money each week of the race season for someone sick or in need.

Hicks, his wife Wendy and their friend Tom Carroll are the only full-time members of the Fan Club. But they get lots of help weekly at Langley from Apprentice School students, who meet their community service requirements by partnering with the Fan Club in selling race programs and raffle tickets.

"The Apprentice School students have been a great help," Hicks said. "I'd rather the size of the club be small if the only reason someone volunteers is to get a free race ticket.

"I want somebody who cares about and enjoys what we're doing."

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