When it comes to motorsport, there are few cities that stand out as much as Langley, British Columbia, a small town of 26,000 people that has become famous all over the world for its fantastic drag strip – Langley Speedway.
It’s located about an hour and a half north of Vancouver, right on the shores of English Bay. For decades, the town has been a mecca for car enthusiasts from all over the world. Today, with a population that is more than 85% motorcyclist, it would not be a big surprise to learn that Langley is one of the biggest drag strips in North America.
The Biggest & Best Drag Strip In North America
In Canada, the legal limit for drag racing is supposed to be 11.8 feet. However, there are no restrictions when it comes to event organizers letting their imagination run wild and they can set their own lap counts and other rules as long as they can come up with a reason to do so.
In Langley, drag racing was actually prohibited until the early 1970s because of the town’s small size. However, in 1968, the International Motorcycle Federation (commonly known as the Federation) held a meeting there and decided that since it was the biggest community in British Columbia, it would be the perfect place for a test event. So, they came up with the idea of the Pacific Coast Championship – a sort of Grand Prix for motorcycles that would be held on the occasion of the famous British Columbia Day celebrations. And thus, the first ever Motorcycle Grand Prix in Canada was held at Langley in June 1969 and it proved to be a great success, drawing more than 10,000 spectators and raising more than $100,000 for charity.
This is one of the main reasons why the town has such a strong motorsport identity. In addition to the Pacific Coast Championship, other prestigious motorsport events that the town has hosted over the years include the Shell Vegas Grand Prix, the Bikes vs. Cars Charity Challenge, the Canadian Grand Prix, and the Canadian Motorcycle Club National Convention.
Stadium-Style Drag Racing
While the original idea behind the Motorcycle Grand Prix was to have a traditional oval layout with nine starting positions, the event quickly turned into a demolition derby-style race where the goal is to push as hard as you can for as long as you can.
A testament to this evolution is the 4.5-mile, 11-turn layout that the city now uses. However, over the years, the event organizers have tinkered with the rules a little to make it more suitable for spectators. For instance, in 2007, they changed the format to a less dangerous version of what used to be a 24-hour race. And in 2015, they also banned spectators, ensuring a more intimate experience for the competitors.
Spectators are still allowed in the grandstands, but the entire area around the track is now closed to everyone except the participants and the race crew.
Why Should You Visit Langley?
Apart from being home to one of the great drag races in North America, Langley also has a great deal to offer the motorcyclist. For starters, the Canadian Rocky Mountains provide a backdrop to every ride. And then there’s English Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in all of North America. In the summer, the water is a wonderful shade of blue and if you ride your motorcycle to the beach, you’ll be treated to an amazing view of the waterfront.
The best way to learn more about Langley is through a motorbike tour with All North American Adventures. This tour guides you around the best sights and gives you the chance to ask questions about life in the town. You’ll be able to tell stories about some of the famous people and events that happened there – stories that the locals are simply dying to share.