- The Washington Times - Monday, July 5, 2004

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — A flag-flying ban at Langley Speedway that sparked the resignation of seven track officials was lifted yesterday, Langley’s general manager announced.

“It’s obvious to me now that the fans want to see flags, and I agree because I like them, too,” said Brink Nelms, the general manager.

The seven officials, including Bryan Bowyer, the chief steward, quit Friday to protest track owner Dwight Schaubach’s policy against flying flags in the infield.

The workers quit one day after the track threatened to disqualify a driver who refused to take down an American flag he was flying on his hauler.

Although he was lifting the rule against flying flags in the infield, Mr. Nelms will ask that flags remain below the roof line — “Not as a rule, but as a request.”

Mr. Bowyer said Mr. Nelms asked him last week to disqualify Paul DeBolt because he ignored an earlier request to take down a flag flying on his hauler. Mr. Bowyer refused, and all 15 entrants in the Late Model Sportsman Division 75-lapper threatened to boycott the race if Mr. DeBolt was punished.

Langley’s management issued a rule June 21 banning all flags, banners and windsocks from being flown in the infield pit area because they block views and are distracting.

Mr. Schaubach denied that the rule had been instituted to prohibit the team of Late Model driver Jeff Shifflet from flying Confederate banners in the infield pits.

Mr. DeBolt was the only driver to fly a flag, which was at the back of his hauler, just below the roof line. Mr. DeBolt said he was celebrating the Fourth of July.

“I am saddened from the fact that I have been called unpatriotic,” Mr. Nelms said. “This could not be further from the truth.”

Mr. Bowyer could not be reached yesterday. Directory assistance reported no listing under his name in the Hampton Roads area.

Mr. Nelms said he had “no control” over the seven who quit in protest and said they will be replaced “with people that are very competent to run the show as it has always been run.”

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