Langley Speedway stayed in-house to find its head official for the 2012 season. Track owner Bill Mullis said Thursday that he promoted Jimmie Walker to race director.

Walker has officiated at Langley Speedway for the past nine seasons, the past five as head flagman. His duties include supervising track officials, interpreting rules while serving as head official during races and recommending disciplinary action.

He replaces Butch Lassiter, whose latest stint as race director lasted five years. Mullis said that his goal in making the change is to improve communication between drivers and officials.

"He's very level-headed and even keeled." Mullis said of Walker. "I've raced with him as flagman at Langley and Southside Speedway (near Richmond).

"He's extremely professional and I've never seen him involved in any drama or huge disputes. He understands racing and is very dedicated to the sport.

"I think he'll handle himself well."

Walker said he was honored to become the race director at Langley and feels that he brings the correct temperament to the position. He added the more than two decades in management, in product development and warehousing, has helped prepare him.

"You need to bring respect for the racers, other officials and track management to the job," said Walker, who hails from Midlothian. "You should treat the racers the way that you'd want to be treated yourself.

"That means you want to be available to listen to them with a sympathetic ear. You might not always agree with them or have an answer, but you can be a sounding board.

"It's important to keep a level playing field for all of the drivers."

Two-time track champion Greg Edwards, who enters this season as one of the Late Model Division favorites, said the decision is fine with him.

"From what I've seen Jimmie seemed to do a very good job in his (previous) position," Edwards said. "I really don't have any issue either way with Bill Mullis' decision.

"I'm going to support it, because I believe Bill is going to try to do what's best for the track. I'm thankful for what Bill has done, putting his own money into this track when a lot of (weekly) tracks are shutting down."

Said Walker, "This isn't a job I'm going to take lightly. It's taken me a long time to get to this position, but I've learned that this is a hobby that the drivers take seriously.

"At the same time, I want them to have fun racing."

Langley Speedway's 2012 season opens April 7 with six races.