Racing has always been about families being involved, spending weekends at the track passing the torch through generations. That’s not any different in Vermont as the Lanphear sisters are beginning to leave their mark.
Following in the footsteps of their father, Mark, Peyton and Reilly Lanphear — 17 and 18 respectively — have been competing at Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont, and have had success along the way. It hasn’t been without its challenges, including the aspect of racing against each other.
“Sometimes we’re competing against whose better and everybody is all like she’s the better driver, and we just kind of brush it off,” Peyton said. “We also stay away from each other on the track because obviously, we don’t want to wreck each other because that’d be the worst thing for everyone. So I have to be cautious and careful of when she’s around me.”
Naturally, this scenario comes with it’s comparisons of driving styles.
“She will go right for it, whereas I’m a person that like assess the situation before I make a move,” Reilly explained. “I kind of use my head a little. But yea, people say, ‘oh she had a better night, so she’s the better,’ but we’re both different drivers in different cars and it’s all about how the car handles at times.
After experiencing good success the past few years, the sisters are ready for the next step of their racing career with the decision to move up to Late Models in 2018.
“I think it’s going to be challenging because we’re going into a whole different new level,” Peyton said. “But I think that I’m capable of going into it with a positive mindset and doing the best that I can do.”
Their goals are similar entering this season, with building confidence at the forefront en route to consistent finishes.
Previous success came at street stock level, along with some events in the team’s Tiger Car, which is similar to a Limited Late Model.
“It’s definitely a big jump going from the street stock to late model because I also learned some bad habits in the street stock,” Reilly said. “I have to basically re-teach myself.”
Peyton was able to get her feet wet by running some races in California near the end of the season. While noting it will be a challenge based on those laps, she said it should also be more fun.
Although the aspect of running a late model may be daunting, both girls have proven their ability, visiting victory lane at Thunder Road this year in the street stock division. There has also been plenty of career highlights, including Peyton becoming the youngest driver to win the Mid-Season Championship at Thunder Road.
“It was not a win, but me, my cousin and my sister all got on the podium – she won, and I was third,” Reilly recalled. “I came from 20th to end up third. So I think that was very cool because it was a great family moment. Sometimes we don’t all get along, but it was great that night.”
As noted, the driving force behind their careers has been their father, who has been successful in his own right.
Mark Lanphear started racing at the age of 17, before working for Terminal Trucking Motorsports with AJ Foyt and spending time atop the pit box for Rich Bickle.
For his daughters, though, their career began on two wheels on dirt bikes – until he brought them home a racecar after he couldn’t keep them safe on two wheels, according to Reilly.
Being able to lean on their father for advice and help has been significant, as Peyton sights his wealth of a knowledge being a benefit when working on the cars.
“We can tell him, and he’ll do it right away, rather than someone who isn’t sure,” she said. “So obviously that’s big – if we need help, we can get it right then and there.”
At the end of last year, everything changed.
The girls were signed by NASCAR Championship Spotter and Driver Development specialist, Mike Calinoff. His program, Generation Fast, cultivates talent for hand-picked drivers who have a serious eye on NASCAR.
“I think they’ve got a good future in the sport,” said Calinoff, “It’s always a challenge because there are only a handful of seats available at the higher levels of NASCAR. But someone’s going to be sitting in them. If the girls can continue making forward progress, they’ll have as good a shot as anyone.”
Currently, the Lanphear’s and Calinoff’s agency, 140 BUZZ, are working dilignetly to secure additional marketing partners to run the ACT (American Canadian Tour) in New England.
Peyton feels that Calinoff’s influence and resume are an advantage.
“I feel that I’m getting somewhere in life and to sign with someone who has such a name in the racing world and that my name is out there and that I have someone who will help with my racing career, rather than do it all on my own,” Peyton said.