It’s called Americas Hottest Race…
Held in the July, it is easy to see where the well attended race gets its title. Langley Speedway’s annual Hampton Heat 200 race (NASCAR Whelen Cup series) hosts drivers from mainly from the East Coast. The 2022 race was held July 23 .
Initially, George Cramer , owner of the Village Blacksmith in Gloucester, VA , was contracted to build 2 trophies for Langley Speedway.
Vaughan Crittenden , the track’s promoter, thought up the idea of a fiery trophy years ago and finally, he was able to bring it to fruition by contracting George in 2021 to build 2 trophies. 1 trophy (largest and heaviest ) would stay at the track as their signature trophy and the names of past winners will eventually adorn the base. The other trophy , slightly smaller but, just as detailed, goes home with the winning driver along with the $10,000.00 cash prize.
Below: from left George Cramer Village Blacksmith, Right Vaughan Crittenden Langley Speedway victory lane 2021
George said: “I was excited to have the opportunity to build such an item out of metal and I was even more interested in the fact that it had to light on fire! We already build fire baskets that stake in the ground for the public known as cressets, so, I was looking forward building a more detailed, functional and purposeful display piece.”
Below: the first trophy (track trophy) is mounted to a detachable base that will eventually be covered with the winning drivers’ names and will be on display at Langley Speedway until it’s yearly debut where it gets a front row seat in victory lane.
The trophies comprise multiple metal forming techniques from coppersmithing, forging, welding, torch carving, CNC plasma cutting, as well as traditional joinery and design techniques such as texturing, riveting, twisting, scrolling, and tenoning.
Below: the trophy is designed to detach from the base for presentation/ ceremonial purposes.
In 2021 Josh Berry took home the very first fiery trophy.
This year’s 2022 Hampton Heat winner was Jared Fryar driving the #14 car. The 200 lap race tests the drivers, crew, and car to their limits and is the biggest race of the year for Langley Speedway.
This year’s kick off did not disappoint, complete with pyrotechnics and the trophy burning in the background as drivers were introduced. Vaughan and the crew at Langley gave the fans a fitting show for the highly attended event.
Below: this year’s driver trophy
Last years driver trophy:
“It was fun using multiple metal forming techniques to build these trophies” said Cramer. “I also employed annealing and tempering techniques to add color and patina and to stress relieve certain members as they work harden during the process. I love it when I get to use a majority of my metal skills on a single project as it really shows how diversified metal crafts can be.”
Below: Mid-process elements
The Village Blacksmith not only does custom work, they also teach classes in the craft of Blacksmithing. Students can get a feel of what it is like to forge metal with their own hands through classes specifically designed to instill the core components and the necessary skills of a blacksmith. They create and leave with multiple items they will take home.
The Village Blacksmith looks forward to creating another trophy for next year’s Hampton Heat 200.
To learn more about classes offered at the Village Blacksmith visit:
VILLAGE BLACKSMITH courses click here
Visit their instagram and Facebook : @handforgedsteel
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