It took years for Tyson Lanfermann to build up the confidence to race at Lakeside Speedway.
The track has “probably some of the best competition in the Kansas City area,” Lanfermann said, and he wanted to make sure he was on that level before jumping in.
But now that he’s been racing at Lakeside – a .400-mile semi-banked dirt oval track in Shawnee, Kansas in its first season returning to a NASCAR-sanction – he’s now chasing another elusive prize. He wants a win.
In his first couple seasons at Lakeside, Lanfermann was consistently finishing around 15-17. Last year, after getting a new car and new program with Luke Nieman Motorsports, he was able to get into the top-10 consistently, with an average finish of seventh.
On opening night this season, Lanfermann briefly got the chance to feel what winning at Lakeside was like. He won the B Modifieds race, only to face a disqualification for coming up about two pounds too light in postrace inspection.
“Starting out the year, it was unfortunately heartbreaking,” Lanfermann said. “But it definitely fueled my fire to continue doing it and chase that feeling again.”
Lanfermann has two top-10 finishes in three races this season.
“For me to race there and be competitive there, it’s a big deal,” he said. “On any given night it’s tough to finish in the top 10. If you finish in the top 10 you’re doing something. If you finish in the top five, that’s an amazing accomplishment. And if you win, it’s unreal. It’s an amazing feeling.
“I’m chasing that feeling again. There’s nothing like it. Especially with the amazing fans they have there.”
Lanfermann faces stiff competition in the B Modifieds class at Lakeside, especially from one driver in particular. His dad, Paul Lanfermann, also races in the class, and is currently one spot ahead of his son in the standings. Paul drives Lanfermann’s back-up car every week.
When the younger Lanfermann was growing up his dad raced at Lakeside in the former grand national class. When Lanfermann was born in September of 1983, as soon as he was able to get out of the hospital, his first stop was to the race track to watch his dad race.
“My dad and grandfather are probably my biggest supporters in the sport along with my wife. Just three people that believe in me and believe in what we can do. It’s just amazing. They’re just such huge helps.”
It was watching his dad that made Lanfermann want to begin driving himself, and he wanted to race at Lakeside like his dad too.
Fifteen years ago Lanfermann began racing a dirt stock car around Kansas before coming to his family’s old track.
But now, racing against his own family is “nerve-wracking,” to say the least, Lanfermann said.
“I want him to do well and I want to do well, and the best thing about it is I get to share those memories with him,” he said. “Years down the road when I’m an old man and I talk to my kids I’m going to be saying, ‘Yea, I used to race against your grandfather.’ I’ll never forget those moments.
“Do I want to win? Of course I do. But I want to see him do well too. He’s done so much for me that I kind of want to put him first at times, but I always have that uber competitive personality that wants to do well too.”
Working with his dad and grandfather, Paul Lanfermann Sr., has been part of what’s helped Lanfermann’s confidence in the racing world.
Teaming up with Luke Nieman Motorsports has been a “massive, massive,” help too, he said. The team bought Lanfermann a new car before the 2019 season, and having an established group behind him has “really, really helped my confidence,” he said.
“I’m lucky enough to have support from Luke Nieman Motorsports whose been just a massive, massive help to me. I can‘t say enough about him and his family for helping me get to that point. He’s also helped out my father and I work out some of our kinks and the things that we were missing in the past. Definitely, definitely a big help to us.”
Getting to work with a successful team, and alongside his dad and grandfather, is what makes racing worth it and enjoyable to Lanfermann.
As he builds confidence in his driving ability, getting back to victory lane will make it worth it for him too.
“For me to keep racing and everything like that, it’s just working to try to be the best driver I can be, and the most successful I can be,” Lanfermann said. “I think I’m more driven now than I was going into the season to definitely try to bring home a win, for sure. They’re not easy to come by. They’re very, very difficult there, especially in the class I’m in. But it’s been an uphill battle to get to this point, to be competitive in that class that I’m in, so now that I feel I’ve got the confidence to move forward in it I think getting there is just going to make it even better.
“Racing at Lakeside, it’s a tough joint. You’ve got some really tough guys there. I want to race against some of the top competition in the area and that’s where you go to do it. For me that kind of fuels it to come back every year and see where I stand and where we can all compete at.”