Chad Reed winds down Supercross, looking toward racing sports cars
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Chad Reed arrived at Daytona International Speedway last Sunday morning on two and a half hours of sleep and with the lingering pain of a crash the previous night.
As the multitime champion of motocross and Supercross watched the closing laps of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, he was as chipper as anyone in the pits, despite having taken two flights in eight hours (including a redeye cross country from Phoenix to Charlotte) to reach the World Center of Racing.
“I don’t know that is the place or space to complain,” Reed told NBC Sports with a laugh. “I’m a little beat up. They tell me that’s part of it. You’re not going to get any sympathy here! These boys are deep into a 24-hour race.”
Three months from the end of his illustrious career in motorbikes, Reed is hoping to join the Rolex 24 field in the future.
He won the LB Cup championship in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Finals in Jerez, Spain, last year. That came a month after his debut in an IMSA-sanctioned Lamborghini race at Watkins Glen International, just a week after his first test in the car. Reed is hoping to accelerate the learning curve next year as he transitions into a full time sports-car career.
“I have some meetings (at Daytona) trying to really confirm and get everything sorted for 2020,” he said. “Winning the world finals in the Lamborghini Series last year and trying to take the momentum from that to stay in that series. Eventually the long-term goal is to try to come to Daytona. As an Australian, I’d love to do the Bathurst 12 Hour.
“But yeah, definitely sports car racing is where I really want to end up.”
After reinjuring his ribs in a first-turn crash in the final moto last Saturday at Glendale, Arizona, Reed unfortunately will miss his first race of the 2020 season tonight at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland, California (qualifying at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold; race coverage at 8:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSN).
That means there are possibly only 12 events left in the Supercross career of Reed, who announced before the Jan. 4 opener that his 18th season would be his last.
Reed will turn 38 on March 15 and holds the record for most Supercross starts with more than 250. He admits that “no one has raced more races than I have, and there’s a reason why you’re not that competitive this later on,” but he doesn’t believe his age has impacted his results.
“It’s just all preparation,” he said. ‘My preparation for the season has just been terrible. I’ve been dealing with broken ribs. Right when I was getting back from broken ribs, I broke ribs again. And so yeah, it just has been really challenging.”
Last year, Reed had a best of third but missed the final five races after breaking his shoulder and several ribs in a hard crash in Seattle. The fourth winningest rider in Supercross history has a best finish of 18th through four events in 2020.
“You can look at it and go, ‘Oh, it’s less than par, less than what you’ve ever had,’ but I race in the moment and enjoy each and every weekend,” said Reed, who won championships in 2004 and ’08 in Supercross’ premier class. “The fans still love you the same. That’s probably the biggest eye-opener for me is finally coming to that realization that it’s not all about the numbers on paper.
“It’s about sometimes just showing up and embracing the final go-round.”
Reed certainly is embracing his racing future. He was a guest at the Rolex 24 of Wright Motorsports, which fielded the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R in GTD. In its lineup was Ryan Hardwick, who co-drove with Reed on the Lamborghini circuit.
Reed has two sponsors (Mountain Motorsports and CBDMD) that are interested in following him to sports cars, but he said he probably wouldn’t be in IMSA next season.
“At this point, time in a race is more important than getting into a GTD car,” he said. “I think you should always have to earn it. I think I need to prove I can do what it takes and show the skillset that it takes to be here with these guys. Hopefully that transition goes smooth. It’s never going to be easy. You spend your life on two wheels, and everyone else have grown up on go-karts. But at the end of the day a racing mentality is racing. So hopefully I can transition over.
“More than anything it’s just opportunity. I really want to do it, but the opportunity has to be there to be in a good car and good team. A lot of things that you miss growing up, those guys can fast-track you. If you just do it to do it, then you run into issues. That’s really the goal is putting yourself in the correct places so the opportunity, you can make the most of it.”
In the meantime, Reed plans to take advantage of his motorsports connections of living in the Charlotte area, where he and his family moved last year. He is tight with many in the NASCAR community, including Max Papis and seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, and is looking forward to go-karting with them.
“I really love the area, my kids love it, my wife loves it,” he said. “You can’t live in a better area as far as all my motorsport friends. Soon I’ll have a lot of time on my hands, so I’ll be able to actually do the things that they’re all doing.”