Few crew chiefs have had the sustainable level of success in the ARCA Menards Series over the last decade as Kevin Reed has.
The Kentucky native has worked with numerous drivers over the last ten years, from Chad Hackenbracht to Mason Mitchell to a slew of youngsters at Venturini Motorsports, and he’s found success with all of them. That run of success culminated in winning the 2019 series championship with driver Christian Eckes.
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For 2020, Reed is overseeing the efforts of last-year’s championship runner-up Michael Self.
Not bad for a guy whose career in racing started at Concord Speedway, when it was a dusty dirt track, renting chairback seat cushions to spectators to use on the track’s unforgiving hard concrete grandstand.
“My dad worked full time at IBM,” Reed said. “They had a friend that raced a six-cylinder car at Concord and dad would go on the weekends to help them. By the time I was three I was going to the speedway to at least watch. By the time I was 10 I would go to Concord and I couldn’t go into the pits so I worked for the speedway renting chairs. On a regular Saturday night they were a dollar a piece. I would take the money to rent those chairs and then after the races go and collect them all. Some nights there would be almost 400 of them.”
Reed worked his way up the ladder from working on dirt cars to pavement late models and then finding a home in the ARCA Menards Series. And just like collecting all of those chairback seats was a challenge, being a crew chief carries it’s own pressures.
“My job at the shop is I oversee all the cars and all the people to get the cars prepared,” he said. “The biggest obstacle is we race at superspeedways, short tracks, dirt tracks, road courses, and we have to be prepared for every one of them. The most important thing is being ready to make changes throughout practice and the race.”
Reed’s insistence on working hard to be prepared has paid off with some accomplishments he’s very proud of.
“The championship with Christian last year was a big deal for me,” he said. “Winning four times at Daytona means a lot to me too. Winning anywhere is a good accomplishment and it’s not easy, but to win at Daytona four times is incredible.”
Building a team from the ground up and taking an inexperienced driver to Victory Lane is also an accomplishment Reed is proud of.
“When I met the Hackenbracht family they had no idea what they needed to do to come race,” he said. “They had the funding to do it. To do it the way we did it with basically three full-time employees and to win a race with Chad was a huge accomplishment and one I am very proud of.”
Reed has some words of advice for those who want to follow in his footsteps and chase checkered flags and championships in some form of motorsports.
“Don’t expect anything unless you’re ready to work for it,” he said. “Nothing is given and nothing is for free.”