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July 4, 2013

LOCAL AUTO RACING: Learning continues for Lanpher

By Bill Stewart
bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

JR Motorsports Late Model development driver Reid Lanpher enjoyed yet another debut at a new track last weekend when he ventured to Hickory Motor Speedway in Newton, N.C.

Lanpher, 15, of Manchester, finished eighth out of 16 cars.

"We could've been a little better but it was good," Lanpher said.

Lanpher has split his time between driving in the Dirty Dozen series with JR Motorsports -- which NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. owns -- and the NELCAR Legends.

The Dirty Dozen is a Late Model season that splits time between Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, N.C., and Motor Mile Speedway in Fairlawn, Va.

The plan at the beginning of the season was to compete in all 12 races, but Lanpher said the team's budget may not allow for that to happen.

"We still have six races down there," he said. "We'll see what happens. We wanted to try something different last weekend. There is good competition at Hickory."

Lanpher started 12th and worked his way up to seventh before rain delayed the race. When the race went green again, Lanpher got involved in a wreck that all but ended his night.

"It's all a big learning curve for me," he said. "I also had no radio for the whole race, so for all that went wrong it turned out OK."

JR Motorsports teammate Josh Berry won the feature.

* * *

Jon Weeks has twice in the Bike & Sled Eliminator class at Winterport Dragway. He's finished second in the division -- which features snowmobiles and motorcycles -- in each of the last two seasons.

Weeks of Waterville, is in third place this season, which runs from May through October. Competitors race against each other, although a handicap system is in place.

"My bike is not behaving well," he said with a laugh. "I have two bikes I primarily race but the one I prefer is having part issues."

That bike is a 1976 four-cylinder Hondamatic.

Weeks says he is a bit of a purist and loves to race "the older stuff."

"But when you race stuff that is from 1976, finding parts is not always easy," he said. "I don't race out of a catalogue, as many people do."

Weeks also is in his fifth year as pre-race tech inspector for the division.

"Safety is always a concern for me," he said. "There's competition, but that doesn't stop me for looking out for everyone's safety."

Racing resumes Sunday at the dragway.

* * *

It's been a steady stream of race postponements for Pro All Stars Series North, which last raced May 18 in Quebec.

Since then, three rainouts, including a makeup race, have left drivers stuck in idle.

"It's crazy because even our rainouts are getting rained out," Farmingdale native Johnny Clark said. "We're just trying to stay in the swing of things. We've tested a bit, so we've been in the car."

Next up for PASS North is the Southern Maine Motors 150 on Saturday night at Beech Ridge.

If completed, it will be just the fourth PASS North points race of the season. Joey Doiron of Berwick leads the series with 664 points. Travis Benjamin of Morrill is second with 638. Farmington native Cassius Clark is third (635). Johnny Clark is seventh with 575.

"What's interesting is that we don't really know who is hot," Johnny Clark said, "because we haven't raced. We don't know who the favorite is, which is actually pretty cool."

* * *

Defending Unity Raceway Late Model points champ Ajay Picard decided to drive in the Pro Stock division at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway this season.

The Palmyra native finished 17th in a feature June 1 before the car wrecked the following week. Picard, 34, said he suffered a concussion at the June 8 race as well.

"The car was totaled," he said. "In the feature everyone went out too hot and heavy and I got put into a wall. The car was wrecked from the rear end to the chassis. It wasn't fixable."

Picard, who was treated for the concussion, and his team are in the process of putting a new car together. He hopes to return to the Scarborough track in a few weeks.

"We're looking forward to going back down there," he said. "It's a little bit of a drive, but there's good competition down there. I'm physically ready now, all I need is a race car."

Bill Stewart -- 621-5640

bstewart@centralmaine.com





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