This week’s article features Lorin Ranier, spotter for David Ragan.
Away from the track, Ranier works on mentoring up-and-coming drivers.
“I work for a company called MMI where I’m head of driver development so I work with a bunch of young up-and-coming drivers and try to create the next superstar of the sport.” Ranier said on Speed’s Sounds of NASCAR episode that featured the Roush-Fenway spotters.
He speaks with up-and-coming drivers to check up on their progress, though he also provides them with a variety of things to help further their careers. One of the things being the simulator, which many Sprint Cup drivers—including Denny Hamlin—have used to help them learn the tracks.
“It’s not so much actually learning how you drive the car, but where the corners are, and understanding the breaking points and how you approach the corners,” Ranier said on Sounds of NASCAR .
Ranier took some time out of his schedule to answer some questions.
Ashley McCubbin: How many years have you been spotting?
Lorin Ranier: 15 years.
AM: What do you think makes a good spotter? Any certain requirements/recommendations?
LR: The problem is you have to ask a driver that as it's the information you relay to him. Some drivers like certain guys. What makes a good spotter is relaying the information to the driver that the driver needs to hear. The thing is some drivers like certain things while other drivers may not like that information. No information is better than no information so if you're not certain, don't say anything.
AM: Best and worst tracks for spotting at?
LR: It's more of a preference. I prefer Charlotte Motor Speedway as I like the style of racing. A lot of spotter's stands are the same so there's not really that anymore. So it more so goes back to the style of track you're at and what you like. The least—I really don't like Martinsville.
AM: How do you get along with the other spotters?
LR: I get along with a lot of the spotters, a lot of good friends. I'm good friends with Mike Calinoff, Joel Edmonds, Joey Meier, Jeff Dickerson—I'm really good friends with a lot of guys as we're up there every week. It's almost like going to school except we go for years. We're good buddies as we hang out for every week.
AM: What's the hardest part about your job?
LR: The hardest part is the travel. I've got two kids so it's hard being away from them.
As far as the actual job, speedways are really hard as you've really got to be on your game so it's really difficult
AM: A lot of people know what the spotter’s job is in general, but what is it when it comes to pit stops?
LR: You work with the crew chief on the pit stops as what that entails is you give him the pit road speed and when he gets a certain point, you give him a warning like 10 to go. Then the crew chief will get him to his stall and out. Then I'll pick it up and help him get out. I don't have a lot of responsibility during the pit stops.
AM: If you have worked with different drivers, what are some certain things that one driver prefers over another?
LR: It'll sometimes just be phrasing, like how you say things to somebody or what information they want. Such as how many car lengths, some want it and some don't. It's just individual personalities
AM: What do you do if you ever have to go to the bathroom in the middle of a race?
LR: We wait for a caution and then we can always shoot down to the bathroom if it's a long caution. So what I do normally is I go to the bathroom during the national anthem so that way I'm good for the race. Also, before the race, I don't drink a lot.
AM: What do you do before the race, food/drink wise, to prepare?
LR: Nothing. I just have lunch and don't drink much basically for that reason.
Next week’s article will feature Mike Calinoff, spotter for Matt Kenseth.
NASCAR’s Unsung Heroes: Spotter Series