MANCHESTER, Maine — Last year ended on a pretty lousy note for Reid Lanpher, but he’s not dwelling on it.
He can’t dwell on it when his fortunes have turned around so dramatically so far this spring.
But let’s back up a second.
The day after Christmas, the Manchester, Maine racer headed out with a buddy to do the one thing he likes to do as much as driving a late model: snowmobiling. Lanpher was blasting along an unfamiliar trail when he crested a hill and found a fallen tree blocking his path.
Lanpher grabbed the brakes, but as he explained in a recent conversation, “I slid sideways, and the sled threw me into the log.”
The contact cracked two of the short pieces of bone that protrude from vertebrae in the back, also bruising one of his kidneys. The injuries put him out of work as well as away from his race car. Luckily, they required no surgery or need for any braces.
“It could have been a lot worse,” admitted Lanpher.
Still, it was bad enough. Lanpher was laid up for most of the winter.
Meanwhile, his crew, fresh off a runner-up finish in super late model points at Beech Ridge Speedway last season, was building a brand-new car and motor — the first new car Lanpher, the division’s 2015 champion, ever had at his disposal.
The word new didn’t begin to describe Lanpher’s relationship with his new ride. Not only was the 18-year old out of commission, but his family’s business — Scott’s Recreation, a dealer in RVs, quads and other fun stuff — was dealing with an unusually busy spring.
It all served to deprive Lanpher of time to get to know his ride before it was time to race it.
“We didn’t even test the car,” he admitted. “We just showed up at Oxford.”
“Showed up” was an understatement.
During the Speedway Homes 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway, the season-opener for the Pro All-Star Series North, Lanpher’s fortunes took a wild swing for the better. He drove to his first-ever PASS victory.
“As soon as we unloaded the car, it was fast,” Lanpher explained. “We started the heat-race in fifth and won it.”
That victory earned him the pole for the feature, where he inherited the lead when PASS veteran Joey Polewarczyk lost his motor. There were no trees to get in his way and no drivers who could catch him at that point.
“I was pretty excited,” said Lanpher, noting that the victory came on crew chief Jason Ricker’s birthday, as well as a day after his dad Scott had celebrated his. Lanpher could have stuck birthday candles on the hood of his new car, but he’d already made their wishes come true.
“A lot of the credit goes to the team. There was a lot of effort to make it possible.”
Yet this story doesn’t end there. A week later PASS headed to Beech Ridge, Lanpher’s home track. He passed former Oxford 250 champion Travis Benjamin on lap 233 and held off defending track champion Curtis Gerry to win the Beech Ridge 300.
And yet, the story doesn’t end there, either.
Continued on the next page…