Friday, March 22, 2019

Langham to Represent Mobile in a Big Way with Start in Bandit Big Rig Series Opener

Johnathan Langham is no stranger to victory lane and looks to get the chance at seeing the checkered flag in his debut with the Bandit Big Rig Series at Mobile Speedway on March 23, 2019. (James Morris/Johnathan Langham Facebook page)

By: Daniel Vining, Twitter: @danielvining

IRVINGTON, Alabama (March 22, 2019) — At most short tracks, racers tend to help other racers. Even teams that have a beef with each other one weekend, can just as likely find themselves lending a hand to each other the next weekend. It’s just something racers in the short track world do. That mentality can go a long way, and for one local driver, has resulted in a chance to represent his hometown in one of the biggest events of the year for Mobile International Speedway.

A helping hand by Mobile Speedway champion racer Johnathan Langham has gone an extremely long way, with the favor being repaid this weekend when the Bandit Big Rig Series rolls into town.

Last year, during the inaugural visit by the series, driver… and series owner, Craig Kruckeberg found himself with a busted oil pan. Langham and others gave the visiting driver a helping hand, striking up a relationship that has sparked a tremendous opportunity for the Mobile, Alabama native.

“He helped me out when I wrecked last year there in Mobile,” said Kruckeberg.  “He just jumped right in and started helping my crew put my truck back together.”

“Last year me and Robert Loper went to the Big Rig Bandit Series race at Mobile,” said Langham.  “In the mix of the race, Craig ended up busting his oil pan. Me and Loper volunteered to help. We went to Charlie Lyons’ restoration shop, and welded the oil pan up for him.”

Fast forward to this year, and the favor is being paid off in a big way.

“About a month or so ago I got a message from him (Kruckeberg) asking if I’d be interested in running one of their trucks for them,” said Langham. “I was like heck, I’ll try anything once.”

Langham is excited about the challenges that racing these big rigs will bring as the Bandit Big Rig Series will be the biggest, oddest thing he’s raced.

“Hands down, definitely,” he said. It’s going to be a very different change of pace. I’m going from being four inches off the ground in an Outlaw car or six inches off the ground in a Pro Truck to being 24 to 36 inches off the ground. “

“It’s definitely going to be a change for sure, but I’m looking forward to it and I think it’s going to be very fun and interesting to say the least.”

It takes nerves of steel to conquer these beasts, and Langham is ready for his chance at greatness, but also wants to ensure that he brings the truck home in one piece.

“Nerves haven’t really struck me yet,” he said. “I keep going back to the thought that I’ll be cozy in my office cubicle, so to say. I’ll have my four point cage and have a halo around me, a five point harness and be in my office. It’s going to different. It’s going to take a little while to get used to.”

“I would love to go out there and make all the laps, and try to stay on the lead lap,” he continued.

“Jimbo Myers, one of the guys I’ve looked up to my whole life, messaged me and was like ‘You got this, you’re going to go out there and you’ll get the hang of it and you’ll adapt to it just like anything else you’ve ever driven. You can win this thing,’” said Langham.

“I’m thinking to myself, Yeah, okay,” he added. “Win it? Nah, I think that’s shooting for the moon. I just want to shoot for the vision of it.”

Having Langham in this truck this year is quite the way to repay the favor, but Kruckeberg didn’t want to detract from everyone else that also helped.

“Well more guys than just him that were in the infield helped,” he said. “He’s the only one I felt had enough racing experience to drive one of the Bandit Trucks.”

Langham hasn’t been in the truck yet, but after this weekend will have at least turned a lap in everything that Mobile Speedway has to offer, except a Sprint Car. In the Bandit Series race, when it's go time, how hard is Langham willing to press the issue to get a victory?

“I guess it would be no different than any of the other stuff I’ve driven,” he said. “If I find myself there in the last five laps somehow in the top three and the leader is in sight, I think it’d be very interesting to watch. I’m not saying I’d move anybody or tear anything up, but I would definitely give that rig all she’s got.”

“I’m no stranger to Mobile,” he added. “Don't’ think I wouldn’t try going to the outside.”

The impact of the Big Bandit Series coming to Mobile International Speedway isn’t lost on Langham, who hopes to see this event grow, and help elevate the speedway as it continues to progress through a journey of rebirth, after several years of uncertainty.

“I think it’s very awesome,’ said Langham. “I’m hoping this year we have a lot more people coming. This is only the third or fourth year of the series and I think it's very cool. I think there’s a ton more people coming this year than last year from last year. Just by me being able to run this event, I know of a lot more people wanting to come out just for the simple fact that they are friends of mine, family, people just supporting me.”

“I put on my Facebook page for people to come out,” he said. “Love me, hate me, watch fail or watch me succeed. I know there’s people out there that don't care for Johnathan Langham that much, and maybe they care more to watch me fail. Either way, come to the race track, support the Bandit Big Rig Series, support your local hometrack… Mobile has had a rough time over the past ten years and the Lyons family is trying their best to get people back interested in racing. We need these kinds of shows to get Mobile back on the map.”

Langham’s impressions from last year’s race shows that there is plenty of room for both the event and the series to continue to build momentum and grow.

“I thought it was different and very cool to see ‘daily’ semi-trucks on the fast half-mile of Mobile International Speedway,” he said. “People were like all they’re doing is running the Bandits, but I was like, ‘heck…  it’s racing!...  You know?’”

“They made a full day out of it,” he added. “Meeting the drivers and all the different racing activities from qualifying, heat races, to the last man standing races... then you got the grand finale of the feature. It was different, it was unique, and it was cool.”

Craig Kruckeberg is excited to help by bringing the series back to Mobile. He has nothing but praise for the speedway.

“The Bandit Big Rig Series has been growing like a weed,” he said. “We loved it down there last year, and I like the fact there is no wall around most of the track.”

Gates open at Mobile International Speedway at 3:00 PM on Saturday, March 23, 2019. Prior to and during the event, there will be a Fan Series Truck Show, featuring daily drivers that run the open roads in their shined up rigs. Practice and qualifying for the Bandits take up the latter part of the afternoon before racing starts at 7:00 PM. Tickets for the show start at $15.00 but kids 8 and under are FREE!

For more information, check out the series website at

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