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

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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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