Randy Lanier was once a promising professional race car driver with a bright future ahead in Indycar. Lanier’s life turned upside down after his personal life choices finally caught up to him. His involvement in a $68 million marijuana drug ring landed him in prison for nearly 30 years.
Randy Lanier’s professional racing career
Randy Lanier burst onto the scene in the mid-1980s as one of the most promising talents on the race track.
Lanier moved his way up the ranks, winning the 1984 ISMA Camel GT championship through his entirely independent team.
He competed in the Championship Auto Racing Teams from 1985-86, where he took part in 18 races. In 1986, Lanier shifted his attention toward an Indycar career, putting together an impressive rookie campaign to earn the Rookie of the Year award. That included breaking Mario Andretti’s record for the fastest qualifying time for a rookie.
However, his entire life fell apart after that point as his off-the-track choices landed him behind bars.
Former Indycar Driver Randy Lanier served 27 years behind bars after running a $68 million marijuana drug ring
Shortly following a promising start to his Indycar career, Randy Lanier saw his entire life flip upside down.
Lanier’s unlawful involvements off the track put him in hot water with the government. Federal agents discovered that he was a kingpin of a drug ring that imported more than 600,000 pounds of marijuana from Colombia, leading to his arrest in 1987.
Shortly after that, he posted bail and escaped to the Caribbean on his boat, where he decided to head to France. He then went into hiding in Monte Carlo and Antigua before he was arrested in October 1987.
Following that, he received a life sentence with no parole in 1988 due to engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise and conspiring to distribute more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana.
Lanier also received a maximum of 40 years on the distribution charge and up to five years on a third charge of conspiring to defraud the IRS. Two other co-defendants in the case also received the same charges concerning the distribution of more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana from 1982 to 1986. During that time, Lanier reportedly used speedboats to transport the drugs from Colombia.
The former driver reported used the revenue made in the drug ring to fund his professional racing career. The court documents laid out that it’s believed that he made $68 million in profits that allowed him to operate his Blue Thunder Racing road-racing team.
Lanier spent nearly the next three decades behind bars before his situation took an unexpected turn.
Unexpected release from life sentence
Twenty-six years into his life sentence, Randy Lanier saw his situation surprisingly work in his favor.
Lanier had been serving his prison sentence at the high-security Federal Correction Complex of Coleman in Florida.
In late September 2014, U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert granted a motion by the federal government to reduce Lanier’s life sentence while approving a pending release that came the next month. The move was coupled with some significant measures as he must go through drug-and-alcohol tests, no alcohol consumption, or patronizing establishments that sell the product.
He can’t receive any credit lines without his probation officer approving the move. Lanier also had to spend six months in a halfway house before serving three-year supervised release back into society where he can’t own any firearms or consume alcohol.
Following all that, Lanier managed to participate in a race in Mid Ohio, competing for Rally Baby Racing in 2015. He is currently working at a rehabilitation center in Hollywood. Florida.