September 22, 1954 |
|Best finish||6th in 1986|
|1981-1986||IMSA GT Championship|
|1986||Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year|
|24 Hours of Le Mans career|
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.
Lanier was born in Virginia. At age 14, he moved to South Florida. 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.
In 1986, Lanier became romantically involved with Maria De La Luz Maggi.
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.
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 with gearbox failure.
He was invited by the same team to partner with Preston Henn and Denis Morin at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, retiring after they ran out of fuel. 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.
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.
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, 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. 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.
Lanier began to focus on his Indycar career, driving for Arciero Racing, intending to drive full-time for the 1986 season. 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 Indianapolis 500, winning the Rookie of The Year honor. Prior to his arrest, he drove in 18 CART races in 1985 and 1986.
Drug conviction and imprisonment
|Occupation||race car driver|
|life without parole|
|Criminal status||In custody at MCFP Springfield|
|Children||2, Brandie and Glen|
|Conviction(s)||engaging in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise and conspiring to distribute more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana|
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 and thus Lanier was under investigation from the FBI. Lanier along with Eugene Fischer and Ben Kramer, owner of Apache boats; and twelve others ran a multi million dollar drugs empire between 1982 and 1986 when the arrest took place. Kramer was the great-nephew and one of the putative heirs of the top boss of the U.S. crime syndicate, Meyer Lansky.
Many of these narcotics was distributed in Illinois, therefore he was indicted in the Southern District of Illinois in January 1987. He was convicted of importing and distributing over 300 tons of Colombian marijuana, believed to be worth $68 million by prosecuters and was due to be sentenced when he disappeared. He was believed to had fled to Puerto Rico but was later arrested in Antigua on October 26. 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.
Randy Lanier and his partner Ben Kramer received life without parole sentences on 4 October 1988 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. He was initial placed in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary and was later transferred to the higher security United States Penitentiary I in Coleman. 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. As Lanier is no longer eligible for parole, he is currently petitioning to get a presidential pardon.
Lanier's wife 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. She later successfully appealed to have it reduced from 108 months to 97.
She was released in 1999: by that time she was no longer married to Lanier.
Release from prison
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, 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.
Motorsports career results
American open–wheel racing results
|1985||Arciero Racing||Lola T900||Cosworth DFX V8t||LBH
|1986||Arciero Racing||March 86C||Cosworth DFX V8t||PHX
Indy 500 results
Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results
Ferrari 4.9L Flat-12
|NART/T-Bird Racing|| Preston Henn
Complete IMSA GT results
- "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.
- Prototypes: The History of the IMSA GTP Series, J. A. Martin & Ken Wells, David Bull Publishing, ISBN 1-893618-01-3
- AP (1987-10-08). "Guilty Pleas Entered by 11 In Smuggling of Marijuana - The". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- "Driver Randy Lanier Gets Life in Prison". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 1988-12-22. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- "SPORTS PEOPLE: AUTO RACING; Driver Jailed - The". New York Times. 1988-12-22. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- "Hemp News No. 6". Crrh.org. 1993-05-01. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- "Article: 1989.(50th Anniversary countdown) - AutoWeek | HighBeam Research - FREE trial". Highbeam.com. 2008-03-10. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- "SPORTS PEOPLE; Randy Lanier Sought - The". New York Times. 1987-02-06. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- "SPORTS PEOPLE; Comings and Goings - The". New York Times. 1987-10-27. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- "FindLaw: Cases and Codes". Caselaw.lp.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- "Federal Bureau of Prisons". Bop.gov. 2007-03-30. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- "62 F3d 1419 United States v. De La Luz Maggi". Open Jurist. Retrieved 2009-11-12.
- "Federal Bureau of Prisons". Bop.gov. Retrieved 2009-11-12.
- Saraceno, Jon (October 27, 2014). "The 225,000 Hours of Randy Lanier". Autoweek 64 (21): 53–55. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
- motorsport.com profile
- ChampCarStats.com statistics
- New York Times: Driver Jailed
- New York Times:Randy Lanier Sought
- Findlaw.com article on Lanier's case
- Hemp News
- Randy Lanier in the 24h of Le Mans
- Motorsport.com article on Riverside '84
- Los Angeles Times article on crime and imprisonment
- Randy Lanier on Myspace
Rookie of the Year
|IMSA GT champion