More than 6,000 fans turned out for the “Day of Destruction” at Langley Speedway on Oct. 19, which made a lot of people smile. Chuck Hall, the track’s general manager and promotor, and his staff were thrilled with one of the largest turnouts of the season. The drivers, about 100 competing in nine events, also were excited and appreciative of the crowd.
However, the biggest smiles might have been those on the faces of Thomas Nelson Community College administrators and officials.
“We were very pleased with the huge turnout of fans at the event. "Day of Destruction" is usually Langley Speedway’s largest event each year, and we were told to expect 3,000 to 5,000 fans, so the attendance expectation was definitely exceeded,” said Eddie Swain, director of Professional, Credential and Continuing Education at the College.
As the main sponsor of the event, Thomas Nelson had a big presence all day at the Hampton track, from informational displays to athletic teams, dance teams, cheerleaders and other officials on hand to talk about programs and events.
“Many people visited Thomas Nelson’s displays before finding their seats,” Swain said. “This year, we had a lot of support and involvement from the student body. … All contributed toward making the day a rousing success. They also seemed to be having fun, and definitely showed the race fans how positively they regard their experience at Thomas Nelson.”
Thomas Nelson theater student Elizabeth Gallant got the event off to a great start by singing the national anthem. During many of the races, Gary Pounder, Assistant Director of Veterans Recruitment, Retention and Advising, provided color commentary.
“I'm not hesitant when it comes to running my mouth,” Pounder said. “In that capacity, my job was to provide information on Thomas Nelson, its programs and benefits during lulls in the action, and offer occasional comments about the races. Thankfully, Langley has a pair of superb professional announcers (Brian White and Buck Ruess), so they didn't have to rely on me to describe what was happening on the track. Otherwise, a lot of spectators might have left early.”
Thomas Nelson has had a relationship with the track for a number of years, but this was the second year the entire College community was involved. Previously, it was primarily Workforce Development that was involved.
“I was part of the planning committee from the start, as the rep from the military programs team,” Pounder said. “We know events at Langley attract a lot of military-affiliated fans, so it makes a lot of sense for us to be involved in TNCC Day at Langley Speedway.”
Other programs benefited as well. Swain said Hall emphasized to College personnel how important engineering is to those involved in racing.
“(He) pointed out that there was a clear connection between the skills needed to work for a race team and the STEM skills that are Thomas Nelson’s specialty as a community college,” Swain said. “The technicians that work on stock car teams must have an appropriate level of training and education to be effective in their jobs.”
The festivities and events did more than just provide information about current programs to prospective students and veterans.
“Overall, it was a great way for us to connect with the local community, and for residents of our service area to reconnect with us,” Pounder said.
Expect the relationship to continue.
‘The partnership has been very productive for Thomas Nelson, and we look forward to its continuation,” Swain said.