It might not have been what The Mamas and the Papas had in mind with their 1965 hit song, but for Bakersfield native, Austin Reed, “California Dreaming” is all about a win in the July 2-3 Legends Big Money 100 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The 18-year-old Californian moved across the country to Mooresville, N.C. for the summer to compete in the NOS Energy Legend Car Semi-Pro division of the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series and in the Legends Big Money 100, the largest event in grassroots racing.
With the Legends Big Money 100 next week, Reed knows that this can be his moment to shine against the greatest racers in Legend Cars.
“It’s a big survival race,” Reed said of the 100-lap main event. “It’s just the best competition.”
Up to 200 drivers will register for the Legends Big Money 100, but only 30 will make it to the A-Main feature. Everyone wants to win the race, but Reed understands how important it is to even just make the race.
“It’ll be something different getting to run with the pros out here,” said Reed. “Hopefully I’ll learn a lot from them and figure out what I need to be doing differently.”
However, having been racing for the past six years and having a father who has always owned race cars, Reed has a good amount of experience himself.
“I originally got started in racing through my dad,” said Reed. “He used to own multiple cars from Nationwide Series all the way down to Legend Cars. It’s kind of in my blood.”
If Reed finds himself in Victory Lane, he knows exactly how he’ll spend his $25,000 prize.
Reed, like most young drivers, said, “I have a feeling a lot of it will go to racing in general: Legend Cars, late models, a K&N Pro Series East model we’re expecting to run and other stuff like that.”
Last week, he raced in the Summer Shootout Series on Tuesday and then went back to California to race at Sonoma Raceway in another Legend Car over the weekend.
Looking up to Kevin Harvick and being friends with Kyle Busch, a former Legend Car racer, Reed knows just how important Legends Cars are to advancing his racing career.
“From everyone I’ve talked to and kind of from what I’ve learned, Legend Cars are the hardest thing you’ll ever drive. So if you can get car control, and get halfway decent in a Legend Car, I think it’ll make it easier to make it all the way in bigger cars,” said Reed.
The Jack in the Box Summer Shootout is a great place to get seat time and gain experience in a Legend Car because so many people from all over the East Coast come to race in the series.
“The main reason that we come out to run in the Shootout is to run with the best drivers out there,” Reed said of his fellow competitors. “It’s great competition and the car count is great compared to what we have on the West Coast.”
But Reed knows that the key to being successful in any type of race car, from Legend Cars to stock cars, is patience.
“The best thing to do on the race track is be patient. You have guys that go out there and they try and win it on the first or second lap and it usually doesn’t work out,” Reed explained. “Last week I ended up destroying an entire car, rolling a few times down the backstretch. If I had been a little more patient, that might not have happened.”
As Reed works his way up through the ranks of racing, he is sure to do well because he has a passion for racing that runs through his blood.
“It’s just something I’ve always done and will always do,” Reed said with confidence.
The third annual Legends Big Money 100 boasts a $100,000 purse and will feature some of the best grassroots racers in the country.
In addition to the on-track action, fans can enjoy a pre-race concert with popular radio personalities Ace and TJ and their band, Charity Case, on Tuesday, prior to the start of the Legends Big Money 100 A-Feature. Drivers will also participate in an autograph session on the frontstretch during the concert. At the conclusion of the Legends Big Money 100 A-Feature on Tuesday, Charlotte Motor Speedway will host the area’s first Fourth of July Fireworks celebration.