Manchester’s Reid Lanpher already has a ton of racing experience.

He competed in motocross for five years, is active in go-karts and has driven in Legend Car races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He’s currently the points leader in the Maine Mod Series, an open wheel touring division in its second season.

Oh yeah, he turned 13 years old in May.

His dad Scott, who raced snowmobiles in the Midwest and Canada until 2004, put Reid on a sled when he was just 18 months old.

“He learned how to ride that summer and started riding when he was 2.” Scott said.

Reid graduated to motocross by age 5 and proved a natural, winning the Maine motocross series that year. He kept moving up in class and ability, but the competition took its toll on his young body. But the time he was 9 and had been racing for five years, Reid had already broken nine bones.

“My ninth broken bone was my back and that kind of put an end to that for a year,” Reid said.

Reid pitched for his Cal Ripken team that summer while wearing a back brace and his parents thought he was had put racing behind him until he approached with a request.

“He said ‘I need to do something,’ ” Scott said. “We were pretty shocked. We didn’t know what to do.”

Scott took Reid to Thundering Valley in Saint Albans, stuck him in a go-kart and let him compete in the sportsman rally series. Again he won, but at much less of a cost to his body.

“It was so much easier watching him on four wheels instead of flying through the air on two,” Scott said.

Move to Maine Mods

Reid thrived in go-karts and according to his dad his winning wasn’t that well received. He also competed at Jordan’s track in Kingfield and didn’t lose a race all season. Last year, Scott started looking around for a new ride for his son, but was naturally reluctant to put him behind the wheel of a 2,000 pound car. He scoured Craigslist and found something called a TPC Modified, essentially a scaled down replica of a touring modified car.

“I had never heard of them,” Scott said.

He purchased the car despite a warning from the seller — “the guy said it’s not for kids, it’s not a toy” — and then brought it to Peter and Steve Prescott who own Team EJP Racing in Gardiner.

“They were pretty excited about it,” Scott said.

Owners at Wiscasset and Unity allowed Reid to turn some laps that summer two years ago. The car at one point touched 110 mph down the backstretch. The next year Scott started The Maine Mods Tour for kids 10-15 years olds.

“We were very selective about who we let into the series,” he said.

By then the original cars had been sold and EJP Racing built three new ones from the ground up.

“We built the chassis, the bodies,” EJP Racing manager Adam Ross said. “We put in a Ford Z Tech 2.0 motor.

“That’s a good series for the kids to learn because you can actually adjust the cars and make changes to them.”

So far, Reid has won three of the five races in the Maine Mods series this season, which includes 12 races on eight tracks in Maine and New Hampshire. When he has free time, Reid hangs out at EJP Racing to absorb what he can about his car. He still has a kid’s enthusiasm for racing.

“It’s fun to try to beat others and just going fast, I guess,” he said.

At the same time, he demonstrates maturity about his future.

“Next year if we don’t stick with this we’d like to get into full body race cars,” Reid said. “We don’t know what we’re going to do next year because of age. We’d like to get into Beech Ridge and Oxford (Plains Speedway) but they have age restrictions.”

Reid has raced in Late Model Sportsman races three times earlier this year, and will probably get back into the division when the Maine Mod Series ends. His dad owns a Late Model car — in fact he rented it out for the TD Bank North 250 — but still has a couple of questions.

“It really depends on what NASCAR does with their age,” he said. “Fourteen is the limit right now. He may not be able to run Beech Ridge. And I don’t know if he’s ready.”

No breaks for age

Reid gained some valuable experience this winter running 100 lap go-kart races at Victory Lane in Portland this winter. He came up against surprisingly good competition from racers on the summer circuit and learned he’ll go no breaks because of his age.

“In a go-kart he held his own with the adults,” said DJ Shaw, 21, of North Conway.

Shaw competes in the K&N Pro Series East full-time and also works building race cars with his father Dale. The pair and their team built Kyle Busch’s winning car at this year’s TD Bank 250.

“We had a little incident,” Shaw said of a go-kart race against Reid this winter. “He handled it well.”

Shaw actually ran into Reid’s go-kart while under a red flag and was booted from the race. Reid was unable to finish because of the damage to his car. Scott Lanpher said Shaw ran into Reid out of frustration because he was getting beaten by a 12-year-old.

“We all shook hands and laughed about it later,” Scott said.

Those incidents don’t always end with a handshake, especially during a Saturday night feature, but Reid has plenty of time to grow.

“He still has something to learn but he has the potential to go a long way if he keeps his head on straight,” Ross said. “He does pretty well for his age and he’s pretty mature.”

Reid is an accomplished baseball and basketball player as well. This summer he hit 12 home runs playing for his Cal Ripken team and also plays on a summer AAU basketball team. This fall he’ll be an eighth grader at Maranacook Community School.

Playing two sports is part of a bargain Reid and his parents struck if he wants to continue racing. That’s the easy part.

“Racing’s my focus but we really try to focus on sports, too, ” Reid said. “If I was to pick one it would really be tough, but I really enjoy racing.”

The difficult part of the bargain is Reid’s parents insist that he get straight A’s in school if he’s to participate in any of his extracurricular activities.

“It’s tough,” said Reid, who so far has earned straight A’s.

Nor is he afraid to dream big. He’s already thought of a career in racing.

“Obviously NASCAR,” he said, “but that would be an extreme longshot. In a few years possibly (he liked to) run (Pro Series All Stars). It’s a big Super Late Model tour.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]


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