There are a number of drivers with years of experience racing in the Limited Late Model division at Langley Speedway this season. But it’s a 14-year-old rookie who is giving them all a run for their money.
Teenager Ryley Music won the first four (and five of the first six) Limited Late Model races at NASCAR-sanctioned Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway to start this season, and he currently leads the points at the Hampton, Virginia track.
Music may be young, but he is already a veteran at Langley. He has been racing there for four years and already has two track titles in the Bandoleros division.
But even with all that experience, he said he is shocked with how quick he has found success in the higher division.
“I really thought the older, more experienced people… would be the ones to beat,” Music said. “It’s been a huge learning curve, because really what I used to drive was just hold the pedal to the floor and turn left, where the late model relies on so much control and so much perfection compared to the bandoleros.”
One of those older, more experienced drivers Music competes against is his own uncle, Doug Warren. The Warren name is a familiar one at Langley. Music’s grandfather, Phil Warren, won a track record seven late model championships as a driver and has added four more as a crew chief. He is currently the crew chief for driver Brenden Queen, who also leads the Late Model division points at the track.
Phil Warren had already finished racing by the time Music was born, but Music still grew up around the sport, and he got the chance to try it himself when he was gifted a go-kart at around 5 years old.
“It was never really, ‘I want to race.’ It was, somebody brought over a go-kart and said, ‘If we ever decided to start, it’s there,'” Music said. “My mom one day walked out in the race shop and said, ‘If you want to do it, we’ve got the car and we can go try it here soon.’
“We didn’t start out well; not one bit.”
Getting to spend time with his grandfather is what Music said he loves most about racing. The teenager learned from his grandfather the value in going slow to go fast, especially around Langley, a 0.395-mile paved oval.
“He’s taught me to be smooth, and the consistency is one big thing he taught me,” Music said.
The other aspect of racing Phil Warren taught Music was the value of spending time in the garage.
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“I’ve always been taught you’re not a good race car driver unless you know every part of the car,” Music said. “The time I get to spend with my grandfather, me and him are always together working on either Brenden’s car or my car. Racing has brought us close… It means a lot. I definitely enjoy it a lot.
“I’m always at the race track. I race one week and I go help Brendan the next. I’m doing tires for him and working on my own car. I go to the shop during the week with him, work on his car, come right back home and work on mine. So it’s great to see that, that me and the family love it. My other uncle goes out and spots weekly for some (NASCAR) Cup and Xfinity (Series races). Granddad is constantly working on race cars. I race my uncle. It just means a lot.”
Even though he is racing on the track where his family has made a name for themselves, Music said he tries not to focus on that legacy. To him, that would be too much pressure.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to beat his uncle on Saturday nights.
“It’s competitive on and off the track. I go over there and I help him with his car every once in a while, but we talk trash to each other,” Music said with a laugh. “Mostly I talk trash to him because I’m younger and always want to beat him. So there’s a lot of trash talk between us two, but we always joke around and have fun. We go race on Saturday and go out knee-boarding on Sunday.”
Being competitive while having fun is what’s most important to Music, and what he thinks has been the key to his success. He admits he is not really focused on winning, and he is still shocked he has found Victory Lane so many times this early in the season.
As the summer heats up, his goals are the same as they were before the season even began.
“I came into the year just wanting to win a single race, and I’ve already exceeded that,” Music said. “It was just mostly this year prove that I’m good enough to be there and just show that I should be there, and I’ve worked hard to get there.
“That’s really what my goals were is try to win a race and have a shot, and maybe be in contention for a championship. The goal for the rest of the year is just have fun and win races. If you focus on the championship this early it messes you up more than it helps you.”
Racing returns to Langley Speedway this Saturday night for the Hampton Roads Harley Davidson Race Night, featuring Father’s Night Twin Modifieds, Super Streets, Enduros, UCars, Pro Six, and Karts. Racing begins at 7 p.m. ET.