Ia Hidden Star: /Ilorin Ranier

On Sunday afternoons, he spots trouble before it hits his driver on the racetrack. On any other day, he spots talented drivers before they hit NASCAR’s Winston Cup circuit. Lorin Ranier, a spotter and consultant with Ganassi Racing, has been doing both all of his life.

The son of renowned car owner Harry Ranier, Lorin spent his adolescent years learning the finer points of personnel management and sponsor relations. His peers may have been steering go-carts and dreaming of careers behind the wheel, but Ranier was more interested in steering the whole operation.

“No one in my family has ever been a driver,” Ranier said. “We were strictly owners. I always wanted to be the next Roger Penske.”

The Ranier Racing story actually began with Lorin’s grandfather, H.B. Ranier. A native of Kentucky, H.B. parlayed gains in the coal business to sporadic success on the track throughout the 1950’s. Driver Johnny Patterson, a real
“hot shoe” of his day, took a Ranier machine to a runner-up finish in the 1952 Southern 500, and the family continued to show their might in the ARCA series.

The energy crisis of the 1970’s positioned Harry Ranier for greatness. According to Lorin, the coal mines were sold in 1977, and his dad was “ready to go big time auto racing.”

Eleven seasons later, at the end of 1988, Ranier Racing finished eighth in points with the #28 car. The team that is known today as Robert Yates Racing
had 24 wins to its credit, and its list of drivers mirrored the directory of NASCAR’s all-time greatest. Buddy Baker, Bobby Allison, Benny Parsons and Cale Yarborough all had their time at the helm, but Lorin would prove his value by pushing to hire the last driver to take the wheel for Ranier Racing: a young and unproven rookie named Davey Allison.

Harry got back into the coal business – only to fall on hard financial times a few years later. Lorin calls the sale of the team a tragedy, but he is proud of the legacy he helped his late father establish.

“I was very close to my father. When I was a kid, I would crawl up on the truck and let them know if there was a wreck anywhere to watch out for. That kind of thing was second nature, but I got to do more than that. When (Dad) went somewhere, I was right behind him. At age 12, 13 and 14, I was in on whatever deals he made,” Ranier said.

Lorin made a couple of attempts at college, but the track kept calling. At age 23, he showed he could win at any type of racing, as he became the youngest trainer to saddle a horse in the 1988 Breeders Cup. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Charlotte to take another shot at NASCAR. The aim was to turn a young driver into a star, and Lorin’s discerning eye settled on none
other than Tony Stewart who raced a Busch car for Ranier-Walsh in 1996. Joe Gibbs bought out Stewart’s contract while Ranier proceeded to help then owner/driver Bill Elliott with the responsibilities of a two-car team.

“I guess I’m two for two with picking drivers,” he said. “I’ve been doing this all my life and I’ve developed an eye. I definitely have a passion for it.”

Ranier is quick to admit that his ultimate goal is to re-establish Ranier Racing. It seems he was born to do so, as his mother recalls an early departure from the1965 Indy 500 because her unborn son jumped around too much
when the cars passed their grandstand. Even his middle name, Dario, came from
an Indy racing program that dates back to the early 1900’s. However, at age 36, he has a veteran’s instinct when it comes to timing.

Meanwhile, he is enthralled by his work – helping legendary car owner Chip Ganassi translate his success to NASCAR. Ranier got a call from (team manager) Andy Graves at the onset and has been with them since 2000 – prior to Ganassi’s purchasing SABCO. Already, there is evidence of his influence.

“(Ganassi) is very sharp,” Ranier said. “He knows how to get the most out of people. We have a give-and-take relationship. I teach him things, and of course, I continue to learn from him. Part of my consulting role is looking to the
future. I know who’s out there.”

Although he is reluctant to reveal names, you can bet he has his eye on the future of the sport. The old Texaco symbol may be absent – but whether he is spotting for Ganassi or running a team of his own, Ranier is certain to find the stars.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2002

Photos

  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Chase Opener at Chicago
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • Federated Auto Parts 400
  • © 2014 MRN. All Rights Reserved

    FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

    ISC Track Sites