Interview

Lorin Ranier Embracing New Role as Team Owner

When the name Lorin Ranier comes up in racing circles it’s usually connected to being a spotter for one of the Chip Ganassi Racing teams, as he spent the last 16 years of his career with the organization.

Ranier began spotting 20 years ago after he felt it was something that he wanted to try and could do a good job at.

“I felt like it was something that I wanted to do and could be good at as I’ve been around racing my whole life and been watching,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I wanted to give it a go, so I did, and after I did it a few times with the first couple of drivers, they said, ‘Hey, you’re pretty good at this.’ It just kind of evolved with how we did it.”

He spent a couple of seasons with Bill Elliott, before joining Chip Ganassi Racing and working with a couple of different drivers. After spending the last four years with Jamie Mcmurray, though, he is leaving CGR to tackle a new challenge.

Ranier has entered into a partnership with MDM Racing to form a new entity, titled Ranier Racing with MDM in select Camping World Truck Series races, as well as the K&N Pro Series East and ARCA Racing Series. The team will be used to develop drivers for future partnerships with MDM-Hillman Racing.

The partnership came about after a conversation with Mark McFarland. Starting out his career as a driver, McFarland transitioned into a crew chief role, leading @BenRhodes to the 2014 K&N Pro Series East championship. With Ranier Racing, he will be the team’s competition department director.

Ranier Racing has thus far announced that they will have Brandon Jones and Kyle Benjamin behind the wheel.

On top of running the full XFINITY Series schedule for Richard Childress Racing, Jones will run five ARCA Racing Series events and six Truck Series events. Each of the truck events will be companion races to his XFINITY schedule.

“I expect Brandon to contend for a win in every race that he runs, as far as ARCA,” Ranier said. “Then in the Truck Series, I expect him to be in the top-10 in each race that he runs.”

Benjamin is set to run seven K&N Pro Series races, as well as seven ARCA events.

“I expect Kyle to be really competitive in the K&N stuff and have a good shot to win most of the races that he goes to,” Ranier said. “As far as ARCA races, he doesn’t have a ton of superspeedway experience, but he has already won two ARCA races on short tracks, so I will say that he will be competitive in all the races that he runs.”

The new position seems fitting for Ranier, as he has always had a knack for spotting talent. He’s been credited with helping boost the careers of many, ranging from Tony Stewart to Jimmie Johnson. Ranier also helped Davey Allison get his first full-time ride in the Sprint Cup Series by convincing his dad Harry Ranier to put Allison in the car for the 1987 season.

“I remember Davey in 1981, his father Bobby Allison drove for my father, so we developed a friendship,” Ranier said. “I was kind of watching him. I just watched how he was coming up. I liked his determination – you just knew that this kid was going to make it.”

Cale Yarborough drove for Ranier-Lundy Racing from 1983 to 1987, though was leaving the organization at the end of the season. At that point, Ranier made the suggestion to put Allison in the car.

“When the opportunity arose, and Cale Yarborough left our team, and we had to put together basically a whole new team with a driver. I felt like a younger driver would be a better deal because the one we wanted, we couldn’t get it,” Ranier said. “So we felt like we could take Davey and make a star out of him. It actually worked out perfect.”

The decision turned out to be successful, with Allison winning four races in the two seasons that he drove for Harry Ranier.

When it comes to spotting young talent, Ranier says the key is to see whether they have a natural ability to get the job done behind the wheel and whether they have the potential to move up.

“A lot of that not only has to do with how they race, but how they handle themselves and how marketable they are, and obviously if they have to have sponsorship behind them to support the program that they’re in,” he said. “There are several factors that go into it.”

The transition is even more fitting when you look at Ranier’s background in the sport. Ranier grew up in racing, virtue of both his grandfather and father involved. His grandfather H.B. Ranier was an owner through the 1950s and 1960s, followed by his father through the late 1970s and 1980s.

“I was born into racing,” he said. “I was never not around racecars. For my entire life, I’ve been around something to do with racing my whole life so I’m a third-generation when it comes to this; now I’m a third generation car owner.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, it’s owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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