Picture this: One of the top late model teams at Thunder Road suddenly is in the market for a new driver. They provide the team, the sponsorship, and the car, and all they need is someone to pilot it.
Then the phone rings.
While that scenario has probably played out in the dreams of every driver that has ever raced a car at Thunder Road, it’s a reality for Brandon Lanphear.
On Friday, the 26 year old Lanphear was tabbed as the next driver of the famed 16vt late model, prepared and sponsored by Richard Green of Enosburg, VT. The RGR team has become one of the most recognizable and most popular teams over the last twenty-or-so seasons, and has won two championships in the last five seasons- one in 2016 and another in 2018.
“I’m not sure that it’s sunk in yet,” the Morrsiville native told us. “It almost seems too good to be true. It’s such a cool opportunity to be able to drive a car that I grew up going to watch.”
Lanphear is the son of former Milk Bowl winner Dwayne Lanphear, who’s famous for being the Thunder Road “bad boy” throughout the 90’s and 2000’s. However, Brandon isn’t worried about what people think of him, he just wants to race. “As long as i’m doing all I can do as a driver, people can think whatever they want of me.” He said. “I’d like to think I’ve made a decent name for myself over the past five years just by showing respect when needed and also being aggressive when it’s needed.”
Die-hard Thunder Road fans are already familiar with Lanphear- he joins the late model ranks after a successful three year stint in the Flying Tiger division, including a 2020 season where he won the prestigious Triple Crown series, and finished fourth in the final standings for the track championship. He’s also a former rookie of the year in both the Tigers and the Thunder Road Street Stocks.
While the Richard Green Racing team is coming off of a tremendously successful run with Scott Dragon, including two championships and a third place points finish in 2020, Lanphear says the expectation of him in 2021 is to learn and grow as a driver. “They just want to go have fun and help me learn along the way” He said. “I’m sure it’s going to be a new challenge for them and I think they’re looking forward to that.”
Lanphear has two prior starts in a late model, most recently in October’s Vermont Milk Bowl, where he drove to a 16th place finish in a one-off ride.
“Personally, I’d like to win rookie of the year and contend for a win or two. I’m really going to approach this year the same way I have every other year.” He told us.
The 16vt team is expected to run for the weekly championship at Thunder Road, as they have each year since 2001. They are also reported to be interested in running the $10,000 to win Midsummer 250 at White Mountain, as well as the 150 lap American Canadian Tour event at Oxford as part of the “Night Before the Oxford 250”.
“This team has already proven itself by winning races and championships, so I would love to keep that track record and show what we’re capable of.”
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