Backed by the greatest team in motorcycle drag racing history, Cory Reed made his first official runs with Vance & Hines power at one of the sport’s true “majors,” the Gatornationals. “When you have Vance & Hines’ stuff, you unload the bike and know you have a real chance to win,” he said. “These bikes should never be out of the top half.”

After just a handful of test passes in Bradenton and Gainesville, Reed sped straight down the groove to a 6.98 at 191 mph in Pro Stock Motorcycle’s first qualifying session of 2021. The former Rookie of the Year, who ran three races with his own power last year and went rounds at two of them, got only better from there, first with a 6.87/197 that catapulted him temporarily from the bubble to the top half of the field, and then with a 6.83 at 198.61 mph that planted him right in the middle of the pack.

“Yeah, I ran a 6.83,” Reed said, “but the 60-foot was only 1.09. I mean, 1.09? That’s terrible. If I was 1.05 or 1.06 in 60, that easily would have been a 6.79 – maybe a .77 or even a .76. You lose that much in the first 60 feet, it affects everything else. It just kills the rest of the run.”

Solidly in the middle of the field when eliminations commenced, Reed dropped a first-round match to reigning U.S. Nationals champ Scotty Pollacheck, against whom he had a winning record, 6.83/196 to 6.87/195. “I lost, but I can tell Vance & Hines really cares about what we’re doing here,” he said. “It’s not like they just dropped off the bikes and said, ‘Here you go.’ [Four-time world champion] Eddie [Krawiec] and [six-time champ] Andrew [Hines] were right there for every run. I was thoroughly impressed. Terry Vance himself came up after the race and said, ‘Good job, boys,’ and that meant a lot.”

For Reed, the future is now. “If we don’t win at least one national event this year, I won’t be happy,” he said, “I want to win a couple and contend for a championship. Finishing 5th, 6th, 7th would be OK, I guess, but if I ended up third or something like that … that’s what we’re really trying to do. We want go after the record and win races, and now we have the power to do it.”