LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -The community is remembering and mourning the loss of one of its most legendary racing promoters.
Lanny Edwards, the owner of the Lawton Speedway, died last Friday in his home at age 76. In 1961, he bought Lawton speedway and his career skyrocketed as he became one of the most accomplished and well known promoters of Dirt Track racing in the nation. He was also Co-owner of the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl and the NCRA. Edwards promoted racing at multiple tracks, including the Devil's Bowl Speedway, Amarillo Speedway, 85 Speedway and the State Fair Speedway.
The Lawton Speedway has always been a place of fun for the community, but to the Edwards family, it's second home where they grew up and built, fixed and raced cars.
"It's what we do. I don't know anything else," said Edwards.
Lanny Ross Edwards is following in his fathers footsteps and helping his family manage Speedways all over Texas and in Lawton. He says, when he heard of his fathers passing, he was shocked, but says he's thankful for all the time he got to spend and learn from him. He says he will remember a lot of things about his father, but mostly the good man he was to his family and community.
"He would do anything for you. And if you were willing to help yourself, he'd help you. If you weren't, don't waste the time. And that's kind of the way we all are," said Edwards.
Kyle Ezell is Lanny's grandson. He says his grandfather wouldn't let him race until he got older, but knew it was his passion after being at the racetrack from sunup till sundown. Ezell says Lanny always taught him the value of hard work, even starting in the family business.
"It was work. Everybody in the family had a job. We all had all the jobs from when we were little. We had to work the concession stands until we got big enough to do something else and then it was time for you to move to do something else, then you just kind of moved your way on through the deal," said Ezell.
Lanny earned many awards during his lifetime including National Promoter of the Year award in 2002 and was inducted in the Texoma Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2013. He will also be inducted into the Amarillo Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2017. Ezell says what Lanny has created is much more than a family business, but a way of life. He says his son and daughter are already following in his footsteps as well, and not because they're forced to, but because they love what Lanny has done.
"I feel like what we have here and what my grandpa created. There's only, not even a handful of people, or in the whole world, especially in the racing community that can say they've done what he's done and his legacy speaks for itself," said Ezell.
Lanny is also remembered and honored every year at the Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR race by the Lanny Edwards Award that is given to someone who's made a significant impact on the racing world. Lanny was the first recipient of this award in 1997.
Lanny's funeral service will be tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. at Lawton First Baptist Church followed by the burial at Highland Cemetery.