15-Year-Old JR Motorsports Driver Teams With Veteran Leadership
MANCHESTER, Maine – The last time Super Late Models were the car of choice in the Oxford 250, Reid Lanpher was just eight years old. Now that they’re back, the JR Motorsports development driver aims to have a presence in the starting field for the historic race.
Lanpher, of Manchester, Maine, heads to the 40th annual TD Bank Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, Maine, on Sunday, July 21, with an eye on making history. Should he qualify, Lanpher could become the youngest driver ever to start the Super Bowl of short track racing in the northeast.
“I’ve been to the last four or five of them, and I wasn’t even old enough to get in the pits,” Lanpher said. “It’s pretty cool to actually be able to go and get to race in one. Honestly, I’m really excited about it. It’s so cool just to be a part of it. Even if I don’t qualify, to try and run it as a 15-year-old is pretty cool. Believe me, I’m definitely not going into it with that mindset – I want to qualify for the race. It would be amazing.”
Lanpher comes into Oxford 250 week after finishing seventh in the rain-delayed Late Model race at Hickory Motor Speedway. After a rainout at nearby Motor Mile Speedway early on Saturday, July 13, Lanpher made the quick trip to Hickory and qualified 11th. The race was postponed until the next day, where he drove all the way to the Top-5 in the 100-lap event before slipping back to seventh at the finish with a loose-handling No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
At Oxford, Lanpher will drive his family-owned Team EJP No. 59 Eastern Township Docks/Mission Trailers Chevrolet this weekend. Lanpher last drove the car in the Southern Maine Chrysler Dodge Jeep 150 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in May, where he led 31 laps after becoming the youngest driver ever to qualify for a PASS race at the track.
Veteran team owner and crew chief Jay Cushman will serve as Lanpher’s crew chief this weekend at Oxford. Cushman and Lanpher tested the car at the track last week, and the results were positive.
“It was cool to see how (Cushman) approaches it,” Lanpher said. “With all the different people I’ve worked with, I’ve never had a ‘team’ that was mine to work with.Everyone does things differently, and I really like how Jay operates and how he did a lot of stuff. He was really focused on making sure everything was perfect.”
Lanpher has spent the summer competing in both Legends and Late Model Stock races, and he understands that his lack of seat time in a Super Late Model does present a challenge. But he also believes that with ample amount of practice time on both Saturday and Sunday before qualifying begins at 2 p.m., he’ll accrue enough seat time to accelerate his learning curve.
“Out of all of them, I’m probably most comfortable in the Legend and Late Model Stuck, just because I’ve run them so much,” Lanpher said. “I think I’ve gotten more comfortable in these cars. Turning all the laps this weekend, with all the practice, is going to help. The more seat time the better. I’m not going to say I’m totally confident in how I drive these Super Late Model cars just because I haven’t so much.
“After testing, I think that we have a good car. We were turning some pretty good times – that means nothing now, but it still gives us some confidence. I was really thrilled with how it went, and I think it’s the car is going to be really good.”
Making the show, it some ways, is the biggest goal of the entire experience for Lanpher.
“Yeah, for sure. That’s my goal,” he said. “I’m not going to set anything crazy or much higher than that for expectations. I think we have a good chance of qualifying – there’s always the chance you could draw a bad pill – but I want to get in the race and come home with a solid, in-one-piece race car at the end of the day.
“If I can do that and finish on the lead lap, that would be awesome for us.”