Maine Driver Off To Southern National For Dirty Dozen Late Model Series

MANCHESTER, Maine – The winter of waiting is finally over for Reid Lanpher.

The 14-year-old driver from Manchester, Maine, will begin his career at JR Motorsports this weekend, March 1-2, with the first round of the “Dirty Dozen” Late Model series at Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, N.C. Lanpher announced last autumn that he signed to drive with JR Motorsports in 2013, the team owned by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

After competing full-time last season in Legends cars and making a handful of starts in a Super Late Model, Lanpher sees the coming season as a big opportunity for his career.

“I’m so excited to get going,” Lanpher said. “Everything down there will be different for me – right from having the same crew every week that gets into a routine, to the track itself. It’s going to be the nicest (short) track I’ve probably ever raced on.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait to go down there and see what I’m up against, see the competition. It will be pretty amazing.”

Last year, Lanpher became the youngest driver ever to win a feature event in any division at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when he won a road course race at New England’s largest sports facility. It was one of two wins he recorded on the Amsoil NELCAR Legends Tour, in addition to closing out his 2012 season with a win at Wiscasset (Maine) Speedway in just his third career Super Late Model start.

Lanpher expects to compete in the full “Dirty Dozen” series – which will be split between six races each at Southern National and Motor Mile Speedway in Fairlawn, Va. – in the No. 8 JRM Chevrolet as a teammate to Josh Berry. Driving for JRM last season, Berry won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship at Motor Mile.

Seth Kooiker will serve as Lanpher’s crew chief, beginning with testing for this weekend’s 125-lap race on Friday and race day on Saturday.

“My only goal this weekend is to have a decent finish, and to bring the car home in one piece,” Lanpher said. “It’s really about getting the first race out of the way, learning as much as I can about the car and then moving on and concentrating on the second one.”

Lanpher will round out his 2013 schedule with Super Late Model starts in the Team EJP No. 59 Mission Trailers/Eastern Township Docks/Scott’s Recreation/Houlton Power Sports & RV Center Chevrolet at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, while also running a few PASS North Series races at both Beech Ridge and Oxford Plains Speedway.

Four-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion Andy Santerre will serve as crew chief for Lanpher’s PASS starts, and Tony Ricci of Ricci Race Cars in Westbrook, Maine, will prepare the No. 59 for weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition at Beech Ridge.

Lanpher has only limited prior experience in Late Model-type cars heading into this season. In fact, he has limited experience racing anywhere outside of New England. He tested with JR Motorsports at Motor Mile last summer in advance of signing to compete with the team this season.

“I’ve only been to North Carolina two times in my whole life,” Lanpher laughed.

The new landscape shouldn’t pose much in the way of a road block. Only 14 years old, Lanpher is likely the only racer in the country to have already won Super Late Model, Legend car, open-wheel Modified, Mini-Cup, go-kart, snowmobile and motocross races in his career. He picked up his most recent snowmobile win in the USCC East Cross Country Series at Parlin Pond, Maine, last month – making him undefeated in USCC East racing over the last three years.

“I’m going to have to get used to this (Late Model) so quick,” Lanpher said. “I’ll have a little testing (on Friday), and then it will be right on to race day. I really only got a handful of laps in the cars when I tested them before. The challenge for me is going to be how I can adapt to to all these new things so quickly.

“It’s going to be different for me. Usually, I’ve had the same car and just had to get used to new tracks in the Legends. But I’m excited about getting to do this.”