Wins Second State & Beech Ridge Crowns In Three Years
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Even though he is only 19-years-old, Reid Lanpher’s list of accolades already has him looking like a polished veteran.
In 2017, Lanpher added two more championships to his already stout résumé, winning both the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway Division I title and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Maine championship. He won the final four races of the season in the Pro Series Super Late Models at the Scarborough, Maine, oval and picked up his second title in the last three years.
“It was a lot of fun, we had a lot of luck come our way and the team worked really hard to put a good car underneath me every single week,” Lanpher said. “We were able to pull through it with a good bit of success.”
In 13 starts at the third-mile oval this season, Lanpher scored six victories. He finished in the top five in all events, and that consistency aided in his success. Even though of all the statistics make it look like he had a perfect year, the task of winning the championship wasn’t easy thanks to the track’s system for setting the field.
“I like it,” Lanpher said of the track. “As frustrating as it is that we have to come from the back of the pack every week through the handicap points system, I really do like it. I like the charge up through the field, passing the cars and doing the best we can instead of just running a really strung-out race. We’ve been turning laps there for a little while now, we have a pretty good setup and we just try to go to the track and make minor changes to make sure we keep a good running car.”
The string of success for the upcoming driver started when he was much younger. Lanpher was signed as a development driver for JR Motorsports, a team owned by Monster Energy Cup Series winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., back in 2012, at the age of 14. He has also been successful in Legends Cars in his career and has sprinkled in two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts along the way.
However, in 2015, Lanpher’s championship efforts at Beech Ridge started with him winning four of the 15 races and capturing his first career track title, along with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Maine championship. A year later, Lanpher captured two checkered flags and he fell just 22 points short of winning a second straight trophy.
This season, Lanpher was on a mission to return to the top. Although he scored the final four checkered flags, he still wasn’t breathing easy right down to the final few laps. For the second straight year, Lanpher was competing head-to-head with veteran Curtis Gerry. In 2017, Gerry won the prestigious Oxford 250, one of the toughest races of the season in New England. Gerry struggled in the Beech Ridge finale, finishing 10th, while Lanpher won. In the end, the final tally in the championship was 780-733.
Oddly enough, Lanpher credits some of his success to his closest challenger.
“You have to do everything right, and you can’t do a single thing wrong if you want to stay ahead of Curtis Gerry on the track,” Lanpher said. “He’s a talented driver with a talented team and we really enjoy running with them. There is a great deal of respect between us both on and off the track. It’s fun to have someone like that to race against, the Oxford 250 champion is there to battle with me. He’s had quite the stretch over the last few years as well. I think we are good for each other. If he wasn’t there, who knows, we may have fallen behind a little bit on making improvements when we needed to.”
The difficult task of winning the championship is never simple.
“This was certainly a challenging year, we had an average finish of about 1.9 and Curtis was still nipping right there at our heels,” Lanpher said. “It was definitely a tough year, and you couldn’t have any bad weeks. Even a top-10 was a bad night when contending for the title this year.”
In a competitive Super Late Model division at Beech Ridge, Lanpher knows the setup under the hood has played a pivotal role in his success.
“It is so important at Beech Ridge, I’m very lucky to have a very talented crew chief, Jason Ricker, and chassis builder Jeff Taylor, who are both working with me to make sure the car is on point at all times,” Lanpher said. “It’s not easy at these tracks, they are tricky and they are pretty sensitive to adjustments. You really have to be on your A-game, because as a driver, you can’t make up for much of it if the car isn’t there.”
All of his triumphs have been a product of hard-work, especially from his crew.
“I’m so lucky to have so many awesome people behind me. My dad is the lone reason why I am able to race, he puts in a lot of work for the race team and he got me started in the sport.”
The support for his efforts this season came from Team EPJ Racing, Mission Trailers, Les Quais de l’Estrie, Ouellet Construction, Fasway Trailer Products, Equal-i-zer Hitch, Scott’s Recreation and Scott’s Recreation Turner Store, along with his entire family.
As of right now, the plan is for him to go back and defend the championship once again in 2018.
“It’s amazing what we have been able to accomplish the last couple of years and it just makes me wants to go back it up even more. I wish I could take that next step and doing something K&N related to prove ourselves at the next level, but with what we have to work with, we are having as much fun as possible,” Lanpher said. “We enjoy running for the NASCAR title every year and right now we are just at a point where we want to have fun. We want to be able to do that for years to come.”
Lanpher was already honored at the Beech Ridge awards banquet, where he was presented with the Driver of the Year award at the Maine oval. He was also recognized as part of the NASCAR Home Tracks Award ceremony on Dec. 8 at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.