Auto Racing: Q-and-A with Ryan Lagestee
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org July 3, 2014 8:32PM
Ryan Lagestee and his girlfriend, Jenise Porter, celebrate his pure stocks feature win May 3 at Illiana Speedway. | Goodaker Photography/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 5, 2014 6:37AM
Lagestee, 26, a Lansing native, is in his 10th season of racing enduro cars, pure stocks, mini-stocks and street stocks. He has close to 50 event victories in his career, his latest the overall title in the Grundy/Illiana Pure Stocks Challenge. He is a forklift technician.
You have a reputation as a very enthusiastic, positive-thinking person and driver.
It’s the just the way I’ve always been in life. It’s the way I am at work, in my group of friends, around my family, at church and when I meet a stranger. It’s the way I was wired.
How did you get into racing?
My father (Randy Lagestee) and grandfather (Robert Lagestee) used to take me to Raceway Park and Santa Fe Speedway. My grandpa was good friends with Bobby Dotter and Fred Rompler. He toured a lot with Bobby Dotter as a pit crew guy.
Any great memories?
My grandpa was always a huge open-wheel fan, and on Sundays he’d be watching Indy cars or Formula One on one TV and I’d be watching NASCAR on the other. We’d harass each other all through my childhood about open wheel vs. stock car racing. Over time, when I was 15, I got my hands on a 4-cylinder car and I decided to get involved.
Did you have a driver’s license at that time?
Ha, ha. I don’t think I had one the first couple of times I raced. I did have a friend drive me to the track the first season.
You win your share, but you’re also very adept at surviving in features. What’s the secret?
The secret is seat time, and in my opinion the best way to get that seat time is to run an enduro-style race. An enduro sharpens your reflexes. It makes you see things that if you’re just running a 10- or 20-lap feature you’re not going to pick up. Even crazy things like when a guy gets a little loose and you see which way his wheels are pointed, you can figure out which way it’s going to go. All of those skills I learned running 200-250 lap races.
What gives you a kick when you go racing?
Being a people person, I love to build people up and see them do well. My mindset typically on a normal night is I hope somebody else wins. I like to see new winners, and I love the fact that at Illiana nobody has won two features this year.
And what about winning yourself?
I’m also competitive to a certain extent. I’m not going to roll over and let somebody win a feature. Just a mixture of camaraderie, competitiveness and adrenaline is my thing. I’m some sort of an adrenaline junkie, according to my friends. Racing definitely helps me with that.
Ever thought of moving up toward the late-model class?
If I had the funding, I’d jump on a sponsorship. I’m planning on making some moves in the offseason to see what other opportunities are out there. My ultimate goal is to sell the fleet of (4-cylinder) cars that I have and buy one in an upper division to see what I can do.
As told to Tony Baranek