Randy Lanier

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Randy Lanier
Nationality American
Born (1954-09-22) September 22, 1954 (age 60)
Lynchburg, Virginia
CART
Years active 1985-1986
Teams Arciero Racing
Starts 18
Best finish 6th in 1986
Previous series
1981–1986 IMSA GT Championship
Championship titles
1984 1
Awards
1986 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Participating years 1982
Teams NART/T-Bird Racing
Best finish 49th
Class wins 0

Randy Thomas Lanier (born 22 September 1954, Lynchburg, Virginia) is a former race car driver and convicted drug trafficker from the United States of America. He is notable for winning the 1984 IMSA Camel GT title as a wholly independent team, despite facing up to well funded and supported oppositions and the team's questionable source of income.

Personal life[edit]

Lanier was born in Virginia to a father who was a draftsman and his mother was a caretaker at a psychiatric hospital. At age 13, he moved to Hollywood in South Florida where he attended Miramar High School. When he was caught with an ounce of cannabis, he dropped out of high school to avoid suspension but later earned his GED. Lanier worked in constructions to make a living.[1]

In 1976 he married his childhood sweetheart. They welcomed a daughter, Brandie in 1980 and a son Glen in 1987, who was named after Lanier's younger brother who was killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 16. He has other siblings as well.[2]

In 1986, Lanier became romantically involved with Maria De La Luz Maggi.[2]

Motorsports career[edit]

Lanier began his motorsport career in 1978, following a meeting with the Sports Car Club of America at an auto show taking place in Miami Beach Convention Center on how to make a start in racing, he brought himself a 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster, where he used it to compete in E Production at the SCCA Southeast Regional Championship, eventually winning the class in 1980.[3]

He made his IMSA Camel GT series debut at the 1981 Daytona Finale, partnering Dale Whittington, finishing 30th. The following season at the 24 Hours of Daytona, he was approached by a crew member for the North American Racing Team to fill in for Janet Guthrie, who was unable to race due to illness. Partnering with Bob Wollek and Edgar Dören, the trio ran in 3rd place for 18 hours until their run ended[3] when Lanier took over at dawn on his first lap, considered by fellow driver Desiré Wilson to be unsuited to drive as he had been seen previously acting nervously in the pits, he drove the car off course destroying the suspension[4]

He was invited by the same team to partner with Preston Henn and Denis Morin at the 24 Hours of Le Mans,[3] retiring after they ran out of fuel.[5] At Lanier's fifth race at the 6 Hours of Mosport, he brought an ex-works March 82G Chevrolet, scoring his first podium finish with a third, and then another at the Mid-Ohio 6 Hours.[6]

In 1984, after driving for a variety of teams in the previous seasons, including a 2nd at the 24 Hours of Daytona, he formed his own team with Bill Whittington and crew chief Keith Leyton consisting of two March GTPs[3] regardless of cost.[7]

Earlier in the season, Whittington led the season, allowing Lanier to take over after the Charlotte 500 km. With Whittington's help, who taught Lanier how to set up the car and driving,[8] he took six wins, enough to score a driver's championship with one race to remain along with the Most Improved Driver award, despite having lack of sponsorship and being a wholly independent team, unsupported by March Engineering.[8][9] Another reason for success was the fact the team employed the services of talented engine builder Ryan Falconer, who rebuilt the engines after each race.[8]

Lanier began to focus on his Indycar career, with the hope of winning the Indianapolis 500.[7] He drove for Arciero Racing, intending to commit full-time for the 1986 season.[3] For the following season, Lanier would also drive for Joest Racing for both Daytona 24 Hours and Miami. After a poor form in the previous year, Lanier would improve his form by finishing six of the nine races he entered including his 10th-place finish at the Indy 500, winning the Rookie of The Year honor and taking the fastest qualifying time for a rookie that year, an average of 209.964 MPH[7] beating the previous record set by Michael Andretti in 1984.[10] His final race was at the Michigan 500 where he collided into a wall at 214 MPH following a tire blow out, breaking his right femur and was shortly arrested.[7] Prior to that, he drove in 18 CART races in 1985 and 1986.

Drug conviction and imprisonment[edit]

Occupation race car driver
Criminal penalty
life without parole
Criminal status In custody at MCFP Springfield
Spouse(s) None
Children 2, Brandie and Glen
Motive criminal enterprise
Conviction(s) engaging in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise and conspiring to distribute more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana

His growing up in Florida during his youth has been suggested as a potential precursor to his involvement in the drug trade in 1978[2][3]

Lanier, shortly after moving into the Broward County, discovered cannabis at 14 when be began enjoying them recreationally. At 15, he began to sell drugs on the side and at 17, increased them to ounces enough for him to, at the age of 20, brought a $18,000 27-feet long Magnum go-fast boat[1] with money me made partly as a marijuana dealer originally for leisure use. Later as suggested by a friend, he took the opportunity to use this to smuggle a ton of marijuana out of the Bahamas and took this as an opportunity to make a small sideline to his personal water craft rental business.[1][7]

He later took to Ben Kramer, who raced in offshore powerboat racing, as a business partner. Together, their haul grew from a 65-foot wooden trawler[7] that were used to carry 18,000lbs of drugs[1] to a fleet of tugboats that was used to haul barges.[7]

As Lanier defeated the heavily sponsored and factory supported oppositions of the Group 44 Racing Jaguar XJR-5 and Löwenbräu sponsored Holbert Racing Porsche 962, the sudden racing successes began to raise questions about the team's source of finance[8] and thus Lanier was under investigation from the FBI.[9][Note 1][10] Lanier along with Eugene Fischer[11] and Ben Kramer, owner of Apache boats; and twelve others[12] ran a multi million dollar drugs empire between 1982 and 1986 when the arrest took place.[13] Kramer was the great-nephew and one of the putative heirs of the top boss of the U.S. crime syndicate, Meyer Lansky.[14]

A week prior to the Indy time trials, his former driving partner Bill Whittington was arrested and Lanier's name began to surface. Shortly after his Indy 500 drive, he made his largest haul[7] of 165,000 lbs[1] and had considered retiring from the drugs trade.[7] Months after an Illinois dealer was arrested when a local state trooper discovered a small haul of cannabis in a broken down truck.[10] Lanier's business partner and brother in law,[15] Ronald Harris Ball, was arrested and denied bail.[1]

Many of these narcotics was distributed in Illinois, therefore he was indicted by Judge James L. Foreman[1] in the Southern District of Illinois in January 1987.[2] He was convicted of importing and distributing over 300 tons of Colombian marijuana,[16][17] believed to be worth $68 million by prosecuters[18] and was due to be sentenced when he disappeared.[19]

He was believed to had fled to Puerto Rico[20] but he fled first to France, where he went into hiding in Monte Carlo but later went into hiding in Antigua where he kept properties there[1] where he was later arrested on October 26[2] whilst fishing.[7] Lanier had also cut a deal after his arrest for conspiracy to distribute pot, but at the last minute refused to testify against Jack Kramer, father of Ben.[21]

Randy Lanier and his partner Ben Kramer received life without parole sentences on 4 October 1988[16] under the newly enacted Continuing Criminal Enterprise statute (also known as the "Super Drug Kingpin" law), owing to their refusal to cooperate with the prosecution. The Whittington brothers who were also involved received a lighter sentence. Lanier filed an appeal based on the fact that later RICO convictions were not nearly as lengthy, but lost the appeal.[22] He was initial placed in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary and was later transferred to the higher security United States Penitentiary I in Coleman.[23] His subsequent appeals have all been denied. He now uses his available spare time exercising, playing chess and answering any letters sent by race fans.[24] As Lanier is no longer eligible for parole, he is currently petitioning to get a presidential pardon.[3]

Maggi, who married Lanier on August 31, 1990 at Oxford Federal Correctional Institution in Wisconsin.,[2] was sentenced on April 30, 1993 to nine years in prison for money laundering. She pleaded guilty in September the year previously to conspiracy and obstruction[17] and later successfully appealed to have it reduced from 108 months to 97.[25]

She was released in 1999: by that time she was no longer married to Lanier.[26]

Release from prison[edit]

Otherwise serving a life sentence, for reasons undisclosed under sealed motions, Lanier was scheduled to be released from prison, with a discharge date of October 15, 2014,[27] which was reportedly confirmed to Autoweek Magazine insiders by Jim Porter, 1st assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. The Federal Bureau of Prisons website also confirms Lanier's date of discharge conditional to the requirement that he spends a six-month duration in a halfway house before entering a three-year-long supervised release into society where will be disallowed alcohol and/or firearms. Lanier has stated that he has a job awaiting him at a classic car museum in Florida,[21] said to be for Preston Henn, owner of Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop.[1]

Motorsports career results[edit]

American open–wheel racing results[edit]

(key)

CART[edit]

Year Team Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Rank Points
1985 Arciero Racing Lola T900 Cosworth DFX V8t LBH
24
INDY
DNQ
MIL POR
22
MEA
22
CLE
20
MCH ROA
14
POC MDO
20
SAN MCH LAG
13
PHX
17
MIA
15
41st 0
1986 Arciero Racing March 86C Cosworth DFX V8t PHX
11
LBH
13
INDY
10
MIL
20
POR
9
MEA
6
CLE
9
TOR
21
MCH
19
POC MDO SAN MCH ROA LAG PHX MIA 20th 21

Indy 500 results[edit]

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Class No Tyres Car Team Co-Drivers Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1982 GTX 73 D Ferrari 512BB/LM
Ferrari 4.9L Flat-12
United States NART/T-Bird Racing United States Preston Henn
France Denis Morin
43 49th 10th

Complete IMSA GT results[edit]

Year Entrant Class Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Rank Points
1981 Whittington Bros. GTX Porsche 935 K3 Porsche 3.0L Turbo F6 DAY SEB ATL LA MON LRO MOH BRN DAY2 SEP POR MOS RAM ATL2 POC DAY3
30
76th 0
1982 North American Racing Team GTP Ferrari 512BB/LM Ferrari 4.9L F12 DAY
Ret
SEB ATL LA MON CHR MOH LRO DAY2 BRN SEP POR MOS RAM MOH ATL2 POC DAY3 16th 42
T-Bird Swap Shop Porsche 935 K3 Porsche 3.0L Turbo F6 DAY SEB
Ret
ATL LA MON CHR
Ret
MOH LRO DAY2 BRN SEP POR MOS RAM MOH ATL2 POC DAY3
March Racing March 83G Chevrolet 5.7L V8 DAY SEB ATL LA MON CHR MOH LRO DAY2 BRN SEP POR MOS
3
RAM
6
MOH
3
ATL2
Ret
POC
Ret
DAY3
1983 Motorsports Marketing GTP March 83G Chevrolet 5.7L V8 DAY
2
MGP SEB ATL LA MON CHR
Ret
LRO MOH DAY2 BRN SEP POR MOS
Ret
RAM POC DAY3 28th 23
Marty Hinze[28] March 82G Chevrolet 5.7L V8 DAY MGP SEB
Ret
ATL LA MON CHR LRO MOH DAY2 BRN SEP POR MOS RAM
Ret
POC DAY3
Porsche 935 K3 Porsche 3.0L Turbo F6 DAY MGP SEB ATL LA MON CHR LRO MOH DAY2 BRN SEP POR MOS RAM POC DAY3
Ret
1984 Blue Thunder Racing Team GTP March 83G Chevrolet 5.7L V8 DAY
Ret
MGP
DNS
SEB
2
ATL
2
LA MON CHR LRO MOH WAT POR SEP RAM POC MIH WAT2 DAY2 1st 189
March 84G Chevrolet 5.7L V8 DAY MGP SEB ATL LA
1
MON
1
CHR
1
LRO
2
MOH
2
WAT
Ret
POR
1
SEP
7
RAM
3
POC
5
MIH
1
WAT2
1
DAY2
Ret
1985 Leon Brothers Racing GTP March 85G Porsche 3.0L Turbo F6 DAY
Ret
MGP SEB ATL LA MON CHR LRO MOH WAT POR SEP RAM
6
POC WAT2 COL DAY2 27th 18
Blue Thunder Racing Team March 84G Chevrolet 5.7L V8 DAY MGP SEB
7
ATL LA MON CHR LRO MOH WAT POR SEP RAM POC WAT2 COL DAY2
5
1986 Joest Racing GTP Porsche 962 Porsche 3.0 L Turbo Flat-6 DAY
Ret
MGP SEB
Ret
ATL LA MON CHR LRO MOH PBE WAT POR SEP RAM WAT2 COL DAY2 63rd 0

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lanier claimed his source of financial aid came from his Blue Thunder fabrication shop in Davie and a former watersports rental company in Hollywood.

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/news/former-racecar-star-randy-lanier-finds-freedom-after-life-sentence-for-smuggling-pot-6908859
  2. ^ a b c d e f "United States of America, Plaintiff-appellee, v. Maria D. Maggi, Also Known As Maria D. Wolleter, Also Knownas Maria L. Maggi, Also Known As Maria M. Lanier,also Known As Maria "lucca" Lanier,defendant-appellant - 44 F.3d 478 - Justia US Court of Appeals Cases and Opinions". Cases.justia.com. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "IndyCar Advocate: Off Course: An Interview With Randy Lanier". indycaradvocate.com. Retrieved 2015-04-13. 
  4. ^ https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ndAskfAnI2UC&pg=PA114&dq=randy+lanier&hl=en&sa=X&ei=kHRjVfT9GYqBUanpgoAL&ved=0CEEQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=randy%20lanier&f=false
  5. ^ "Le Mans 24 Hours 1982 - Photo Gallery - Racing Sports Cars". racingsportscars.com. Retrieved 2015-04-13. 
  6. ^ "JOHN STARKEY CARS :: GRYFON INC.". johnstarkeycars.com. Retrieved 2015-04-13. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j http://www.maxim.com/cars/racing/article/untold-story-randy-lanier-indy-500-star-and-drug-smuggler
  8. ^ a b c d http://www.imsahistory.com/Articles9/BlueThunderRacing.html
  9. ^ a b Prototypes: The History of the IMSA GTP Series, J. A. Martin & Ken Wells, David Bull Publishing, ISBN 1-893618-01-3
  10. ^ a b c http://jalopnik.com/the-man-who-turned-speedboats-full-of-weed-into-indy-50-1644603033
  11. ^ "United States of America, Plaintiff-appellee, v. Benjamin Barry Kramer, Randy Thomas Lanier, Eugene Albertfischer, and Kay Dee Bell, Jr., Defendants-appellants, 955 F.2d 479 (7th Cir. 1992) :: Justia". law.justia.com. Retrieved 2015-04-13. 
  12. ^ AP (1987-10-08). "Guilty Pleas Entered by 11 In Smuggling of Marijuana - The". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  13. ^ "Driver Randy Lanier Gets Life in Prison". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 1988-12-22. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  14. ^ Umpenhour, C.M. (2005). Freedom, a Fading Illusion. BookMakers Ink. p. 438. ISBN 9780972678957. Retrieved 2015-04-13. 
  15. ^ https://law.resource.org/pub/us/case/reporter/F2/995/995.F2d.662.91-3143.91-2563.91-2297.html
  16. ^ a b "SPORTS PEOPLE: AUTO RACING; Driver Jailed - The". New York Times. 1988-12-22. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  17. ^ a b "Hemp News No. 6". Crrh.org. 1993-05-01. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  18. ^ "Article: 1989.(50th Anniversary countdown) - AutoWeek | HighBeam Research - FREE trial". Highbeam.com. 2008-03-10. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  19. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE; Randy Lanier Sought - The". New York Times. 1987-02-06. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  20. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE; Comings and Goings - The". New York Times. 1987-10-27. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  21. ^ a b Saraceno, Jon (October 27, 2014). "The 225,000 Hours of Randy Lanier". Autoweek 64 (21): 53–55. Retrieved 2014-12-02. 
  22. ^ "FindLaw: Cases and Codes". Caselaw.lp.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  23. ^ "Federal Bureau of Prisons". Bop.gov. 2007-03-30. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  24. ^ Allen Brown. "Where are they now? « The Indy 500 drivers (L) « OldRacingCars.com". oldracingcars.com. Retrieved 2015-04-13. 
  25. ^ "62 F3d 1419 United States v. De La Luz Maggi". Open Jurist. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  26. ^ "Federal Bureau of Prisons". Bop.gov. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  27. ^ Veksler, Marie. "Racing Sensation Turned Marijuana Kingpin Released From Prison Today". Whaxy. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  28. ^ "1977 Porsche 935 Desperado Factory Built Racecar | Mecum Auctions". mecum.com. Retrieved 2015-04-13. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Arie Luyendyk
Indianapolis 500
Rookie of the Year

1986
Succeeded by
Fabrizio Barbazza
Preceded by
Al Holbert
IMSA GT champion
1984
Succeeded by
Al Holbert