Blaine middle school student Tanner Reid just celebrated his 13th birthday on July 8. However, he may have gotten his best present the next day at Deming Speedway.
Reid, who is in his second season as a driver racing in the 600 restricted classification, won the first heat race of his competitive racing career.
After finishing 12th last year after a skateboarding accident ended his season, Reid, who had yet to win a race, found himself in 12th place again going into racing on July 9.
The victory in the heat race meant that the Blaine eighth grader could set higher goals. After his injury the previous season, his father Chad had to finish the year as both driver and crew.
The elder Reid, a heavy equipment operator for Colacurcio Construction in Blaine was bit early on by the racing bug, after watching the higher classes running at Skagit Speedway.
That’s where he became friends with Skagit’s immensely popular driver, 31-year veteran, Rod Perkins. Their 10-year friendship blossomed when he joined Perkins’ pit crew.
After eight years, Reid took the next step and purchased a car for his son to drive.
“I just fell in love with it,” said the elder Reid, “it’s been a great father/ son bonding experience.”
The number 10R sprint car is sponsored locally by Paso del Norte and T. C. Trans, but Reid says they are always seeking more sponsors.
“I can forget about retirement,” joked Reid. “It’s become a really expensive thing to do.” Reid estimates that he spends $10,000 out of pocket annually to maintain the race car.
For Tanner, racing has become his favorite form of competition despite the variety of sports he plays. Besides football and basketball, the younger Reid is also interested in boxing and karate. Racing, though is an ongoing learning experience for the young driver.
“He’s very attentive about what’s ahead of him,” Chad said, “but he still needs to be more aggressive.”
That observation was echoed by Perkins, who serves as advisor to the number 10R team.
“The sooner he picks things up,” said Perkins, “the sooner he can start giving us feedback. He’s getting better every week.”
Friday night’s racing gave a reminder of the inherent risks of the sport when, during the hot laps prior to qualifying, a car flipped on the back stretch. Tanner Reid was undaunted.
“Last week, my brake rod snapped and I lost my brakes,” Tanner said, “I wound up going into the wall.”
The casual recollection seems consistent with the younger Reid’s cerebral and contemplative demeanor.
As Perkins and his father carefully adjusted and tweaked the car, Tanner was seated peacefully enjoying an oversized hot dog prior to race time.
Perkins then talked Tanner through the nuances of what they did and what to expect in the car’s reaction on the track, instructions the younger Reid soaked in.
“He’s always coaching me,” says Tanner of Perkins’ advice, “he’s been racing so long.”
After qualifying fifth in his class with a lap time of 11.563 seconds, Reid found himself on the outside of the front row with pole sitter Alyssa Anderson of Snohomish.
Before the race, Perkins walked Tanner out onto the track near turn four and talked with him about strategy for the start.“He needs to gun it earlier because he’s farther out,” Perkins said.
During the initial start, Anderson reacted to Reid’s start and lurched ahead early for a false start.
On the restart, with Anderson having to start more conservatively for fear of disqualification for a second false start, Reid was able to take advantage and bolted into the lead, winning the heat from wire to wire.
“It feels awesome,” said Reid of his first ever checkered flag. The win placed him in the evening’s main event where he finished seventh overall.
His father Chad took responsibility for the final results.
“Rod and I missed the set up of the car just a little bit,” Tanner’s father said, “and the car just wasn’t as fast as it could have been.”
“However, Tanner drove very well. He passed several cars and avoided a lot of crashes. Avoiding crashes at 70 miles per hour is not easy on such a short track.”
Chad Reid and Rod Perkins’ confidence in young Tanner bodes for more growth and victories for the Blaine-based team.
“I’m very proud of him,” his father said.