Speedway adds Langstaff, Waite and Whitehead to Wall of Fame

A trio of men remembered as dedicated contributors to dirt track racing at Brighton Speedway were inducted to the Wall of Fame Saturday night.  

Fans and racers gathered in the courtyard for a walk down memory lane as Gord Langstaff and Jeff Waite were recognized in the driver division.  Tim Whitehead was added in the builder category. 

After hitting the dirt in the 1950s Langstaff or “Mr. Blue” brought his talents to the newly opened 1/3 mile Brighton oval in 1970 and would win his first 8 cylinder championship on the new dirt track.  

“Gord was a well accomplished driver and much respected by his fellow racers as well,” said track owner Mark Rinaldi.  “He was always in the mix and very competitive in the 8-cyliner class.”

The No. 4 was always a fans’ favourite and over the span of his career from 1970 to 1978, he scored 57 regular season wins.

Roger Walsh said it was Langstaff’s season-long battle with Doug Davis, the six-cylinder champion, for the Randy Fairman trophy for most checkered flags that is something to be remembered.  

“Wins didn’t come easy,” Walsh wrote in the Brighton Speedway Memories Facebook group before the ceremony.  “Back in the 70’s the top drivers had to start at the rear of the pack based on their position in the standings and there could be as many at 15 to 20 cars in a qualifying heat.  Fans watched as throughout the season as Langstaff and Davis’ checkered flag totals climbed, until going into the final night of racing, they both had an astounding 24 wins each. Unfortunately, Langstaff would be plagued with mechanical issues on the final night and only managed a fifth-place finish in his qualifier, while Davis would pick up two more wins and secure the checkered flag championship.”
During his eight seasons at Brighton Speedway, Langstaff would win multiple individual awards, including most gentleman driver in 1972 and a second 8 cylinder championship in 1976, before retiring.  

“Langstaff did this while racing against the very best 8-cylinder drivers of his day,” wrote Walsh.

He passed in September 2014 but Rinaldi said Langstaff’s memory lives on through his children and their families who some still attend Brighton Speedway and enjoy a night of dirt racing.

Waite was a two-time division champion and multiple individual award winner.  He began his dirt career in the street stock division in 1984 and then moved up to super stock where he won his first track championship in 1989.  After making the jump to Late Models, Waite secured a fourth place finish and the overall sportsman award.  It only took Waite three seasons to clinch his first championship, the second of his career in 1993.  Before he retired in 1998, Waite picked up 84 regular Saturday night wins.

Even when it wasn’t in victory lane, it was hard not to appreciate the No. 17, as it was a perennial favorite for best appearing car.

“Jeff’s cars always came to the speedway looking sharp even after a tough night the week before,” described Rinaldi.  “It would be fixed and ready to go for the next week looking like new.  Jeff was always a fans’ favourite and a friend of everyone he met at the speedway.

Rinaldi said Waite is always willing to promote dirt track racing at Brighton Speedway.  You could find Waite’s car at different mall shows, parades and events at different tracks.

“Jeff was always willing to talk to anyone about racing and willing to help out,” Rinaldi continued.  “He was one of those guys if you ever needed help at the track whether it was parts, tools or just advice, Jeff always took the time to help you…He is still today an ambassador of this sport.”

Whitehead was added to the wall as a builder for his countless contributions as an ambassador to the sport during his time as an employee at Brighton Speedway.  Whitehead began working at the track at the age of 16 and owner Mark Rinaldi called him a valued asset to the success of Saturday nights throughout his various roles from pit director, flagman and scorer to maintenance, canteen worker and announcer.

“You name it, he’s done it,” said Rinaldi.  “Tim grew up as part of the Rinaldi family.”  

When Whitehead married wife his Brenda, she soon realized how important the speedway was too him and she too started working at the track along with their children.  Rinaldi said Whitehead spent many years volunteering to help to promote the speedway at other tracks, mall events and parades.  

“He would help wherever he was needed,” added Rinaldi.  “He was the go-to guy and is still there to support us when he can today.  Most of all as a friend to the Rinaldi family we are honoured to add Tim Whithead into the Brighton Wall of Fame.”

Photos by Rod Henderson canadianracer.com

IMG 9505  A trio of men remembered as dedicated contributors to dirt track racing at Brighton Speedway were inducted to the Wall of Fame Saturday night.  Family of Gord Langstaff to the left, Tim Whitehead and Jeff Waite on the right.

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About Brighton Speedway: Brighton Speedway is a 1/3-mile clay stock car racing oval located on the shores of Lake Ontario in Brighton, Ont. The speedway hosts five weekly stock car divisions on Saturday nights from May to September. Brighton Speedway mailing address: 775 County Road 64, Brighton, ON, K0K 1H0