Duxbury, VT’s Reilly Lanphear is preparing to kick off her fourth season on the American Canadian Tour in a very special way at Hickory Motor Speedway. The 21 year old Lanphear will be paying tribute to both her father, Mark, and short track legend Rich Bickle, with a #45nc late model designed similarly to the Terminal Trucking ride that Bickle piloted to his third Snowball Derby victory in 1996.
After moving south in 1995 to work with Darrell Waltrip Motorsports, Mark Lanphear moved on to work with Bickle in 1996, and they won together right away, with Bickle winning that year’s Snowball Derby, his third of five career Snowball victories.
Mark later moved back to Vermont and has been helping Reilly and her sister Peyton with their racing careers. “Ever since I started racing, my dad always wanted to run the Terminal Trucking colors, yellow and green, but I always shut it down.” Reilly told us.
So what was different this year? Well, earlier this year, Rich Bickle ran in his final Snowball Derby, and with the ACT making its maiden voyage to Hickory, perhaps the most historic short track in America, the timing was just too perfect. “We were in the shop one afternoon and were like why not run it at Hickory, where everything started. It’s just fitting for Bickle’s last year” she said.
Lanphear has reason to be excited about more than just the throwback paint scheme, though. Of the nearly 30 car entry list for the ACT races on Friday and Saturday night, she is one of just four drivers with experience at the .363 mile facility. A Super Late Model start there in 2018 led to a seventh place finish for her, which is better than any result she’s ever posted in ACT competition. I’m hoping for another good run, we’re getting where we need to be” She said. “But I just want to have fun, it’s really what it’s all about; and on the drive back home I want to be able to reflect on how I improved from Thursday to Saturday night.”
Lanphear is looking to make further gains in 2021 after three years that have been spent experiencing growing pains from moving up to the ACT level from the Thunder Road weekly divisions. She did begin to show some growth towards the end of 2020, including an ACT career best 14th place run at Riverside Speedway on August 15th. “We made pretty big gains last year, in my opinion. I think we will have a pretty solid baseline going back to tracks we’ve been to before, so really I’m just hoping to have the confidence in myself that I can do it, that’s a thing I always lack.”
Knowing that she’s run well at Hickory in the past also gives her added confidence going into the weekend as well. “I think a solid run at Hickory will definitely help set the pace and momentum for the year, we’ve done a lot of homework this winter so I’m hoping it pays off.”
Hickory is an excellent opportunity for Lanphear to kick off a season where she has the chance to grow into an ACT veteran, while also hopefully scoring some top finishes along with it.
As for the throwback? Rich has seen it, and he “loves it”, according to Reilly. A throwback car that honors family history, taking to the track at one of the most historic venues in racing. It doesn’t get much better than that.
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