Son of longtime Langley driver finds a piece of his father’s past 11 years after his death

Posted at 7:08 PM, Nov 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-20 11:08:26-05

Virginia Beach, Va. - The dashboard, steering wheel, and stick shift are the only items that Chris Lemonds says he has found from the race car that his father died in.

The longtime Langley driver, Dale Lemonds, died at Langley Speedway back in August 2004. Chris says he and his family were told that the car had to be destroyed.

Until this week, when he had a shocking discovery.

Chris says he saw a Facebook post on Monday night, on his friend's account, who works at Langley speedway. It looked like part of his father's race car hanging on a wall.

He came to find out later it was on the wall of the Max and Erma's restaurant inside the DoubleTree Hotel in Virginia Beach.

"My heart stopped," says Chris. "The lady who didn't know anything of the history of this car just saw the sticker and said, 'Hey Langley Speedway, I have a friend that goes out there and helps them, I'm going to take a picture."

From there, the DoubleTree Hotel got word of the car's history and sensitivity.

"We thought the best idea would be to take it down and honor the family's wishes and store it for the family," says Paul Manalang, Assistant General Manager at the DoubleTree Hotel.

Today, Paul and his staff handed the car piece over to Chris for free, and for him and his family to keep. It's the first time the car has been taken off of the Max and Erma's wall in eight years.

Manalang says because of different ownership, they have not had luck finding where the piece of the car came from or if it is a replica.

However, Chris showed NewsChannel 3 the stickers on the car that he made, a U.S. Legends stamp underneath, the company that made the car body for his father years ago, along with parts of its build he says only he and its other builders could recognize.

"If somebody was to replicate this they would not put these stoppers on it that we used to put on  it to let the air escape under the hood," he says. "It's the car, hands down, I'd put my life on it."

It's still unclear whether or not the car was destroyed, as Chris says his family were told, and if it was not destroyed, it's unclear where the rest of the car is.

Those are two questions Chris and his family are working with their lawyer to find out. They are not looking for restitution, but closure.

"Hoping for answers," says Chris. "Where is the car? That's the big mystery."