Danny Harrell is steady and patient enough racing stock cars to have won three division championships on Saturday nights during his career at Langley Speedway. The crown he enjoys most, though, is “King of Destruction.”
Records are hard to come by, but it’s possible no one has more “Day of Destruction” first places at Langley than Harrell. He has won at least one Day of Destruction competition in the past six events.
Harrell will try for four more firsts in Langley’s latest Day of Destruction, set for 1 p.m on Saturday. The 10 competitive events are designed to generate as many wrecks and destroy as much sheet metal as possible.
Some of the heaviest metal to spill onto Langley’s 4/10-mile oval will be during the Appliance Race. Harrell is always the man to beat in his ‘95 Lincoln Town Car.
He’ll also contend with his ’03 Grand Marquis in the Enduro, a full-contact race of about 40 cars over soap-drenched asphalt. Harrell, 53, won $1,000 for his victory in that.
Harrell will compete in the Tug of War, in which two cars touch noses until one pushes the other five-feet backward, and in the Burnout Competition. But his Day of Destruction specialty is the crowd-pleasing Appliance Race.
The first driver to haul five appliances (one added per lap) across the finish line using their car as a hauler is the winner. Before Harrell, it was common for refrigerators, washers, driers, ovens and dishwashers – none of them tied down – to fly off of cars and onto the track or onto the cars of the competition while the crowd roared in delight.
Harrell, though, always finishes cleanly and usually in first place.
“Normally guys get small beat-up cars for these events and don’t ever really think about getting cars that can win a specific event,” Langley Speedway promoter Vaughan Crittenden said. “But once he showed up with a car that had a huge trunk, flat roof and was working, he set the example for how strategy can win that race every year.
“The competition is starting to catch up to him, but he’ll always be the King of the Appliance Race.”
Harrell said, “You have to coordinate your guys. You have to have a game plan and know what will fit where.
“Then you have to drive patiently.”
Combining patience and aggression is how Harrell emerges with mostly clean fenders from a day on which crashing is commonplace with drivers racing in reverse, blindfolded and chained to other cars. Take the Tug of War.
“You keep up a constant push, but you don’t give all (acceleration) at one time,” Harrell said. “You wait for your opponent to burn their stuff out.”
Harrell is something of a ringer in the heavy traffic of the Enduro. He won that division twice on NASCAR Saturday nights at Langley, minus the soap suds and water barrels.
“That makes it like running on ice,” he said. “So you try to be aggressive driving, but not overly so, and stay on the go.
“Always be passing and be there at the end. There’s nothing like driving in a controlled but chaotic race and be able to door-slam the guy beside you.”
Even that attitude is calculated. Harrell says door-slamming helps you stay in control rounding soapy corners.
That’s not to say he doesn’t get some satisfaction watching a competitor spin out as they approach the straightaway following his door slam. It is, after all, a Day of Destruction.
“I love what they call the sheet metal carnage of destruction,” Harrell said. “I like being `The King of Destruction.’
“It’s one thing in life that’s awesome and off-the-hook.”
TO WATCH: With only 1,000 fans, rather than the usual 6,000, allowed, tickets are sold out. If you want to watch, the track will stream the event free of charge on its Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway Facebook page (www.facebook.com/LangleySpeedway) and on You Tube