1986 Indy 500 Rookie of Year Randy Lanier to be paroled after 27 years in prison


After serving 27 years of a sentence of life in prison without parole, 1986 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Randy Lanier will become a free man on Wednesday.

According to a report by Autoweek.com, Lanier, who reportedly financed his IndyCar career through a marijuana smuggling operation that he headed, will be paroled after nearly three decades behind bars.

Lanier just turned 60 on September 22. He’s been in prison in his home state of Florida since he was 33. He’ll be released from the Coleman Federal Correction Complex in Coleman, Florida. Officials have not given a reason as to why Lanier is being paroled when he was sentenced to a full life term when first convicted.

Lanier drove for Arciero Racing in his first and only appearance in the Indy 500 in 1986, qualifying a decent 13th and finishing a respectable 10th.

Lanier also was the 1984 IMSA Camel GT series champ.

He also competed in 18 CART races in 1985 and 1986, and finished 49th in the 1982 24 Hours of LeMans. Lanier also had significant success on various levels of sports car racing in the U.S., particularly in the Southeast part of the country.

Unfortunately, shortly after his Indy 500 debut, federal officials began investigating how Lanier was funding his racing exploits and discovered he was a large-scale pot transporter and smuggler.

Lanier was originally arrested by FBI agents for importing and distributing 300 tons of marijuana from Colombia, which officials estimated at the time to be worth $68 million. It was from there that he funded the majority of his racing operations.

He attempted to avoid prosecution and fled the U.S., only to be caught in Antigua in 1987, and sentenced to life without parole less than a year later after Lanier was found to be a “Super Drug Kingpin.”

Once released, Lanier will spend the next six months in halfway house, and reportedly has a job lined up afterward in a South Florida classic car museum, according to Autoweek.

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.