Reed Motorsports’ first outing of 2024 turned out to be a lot more like the team’s frustrating 2023 season than it did their soaring, life-affirming 2022 campaign. Rider Joey Gladstone squeaked into the back half of the Gatornationals Pro Stock Motorcycle field and was gone after one round.

Hamstrung by a disastrous foray into the sand trap after a test run just before Gainesville, the team was worn out before qualifying even got under way. “We were up until 5 a.m. getting the sand out of everything,” Reed said. They missed the first qualifying session and never made it to the finish line in the second. Saturday in Q3 Gladstone managed a 7.09 at 186 mph – a third of a second and 15 mph short of what the team is capable of, but at least it got him into the final lineup. Barely.

On the bump when eliminations began, Gladstone faced the toughest possible opponent, reigning world champion Gaige Herrera, lead rider for the all-conquering Vance & Hines juggernaut that dominated the 2023 season, in round one. He got off the line on time and picked up a tenth and a half with a decent 6.94/194 but had absolutely no chance when Herrera, already the quickest rider by a mile, picked up more than a tenth with the second-quickest run of all time, a track-record 6.63.

“We’ve gotten everything out of this that we can,” Reed said. “We’re about done. I’m good with what we’ve accomplished. Joey’s good. He’s set records before, won championships. What he wanted was to win NHRA Pro Stock races, and we did – three times.”

The team’s 2022 campaign was one for the ages, the epitome of everything both racers ever wanted to achieve – six finals, three victories, and one career best after another. But lately? “We’re tired of it,” Reed said. “The amount of time we’ve spent on this to not run well … It’s been nine years of this crap. Joey’s not some punching bag, some filler. We might run Charlotte, might run Richmond. Maybe a couple more. Maybe none. If we run anywhere, it’ll be the ones close to home. We both have things going on, new goals. We don’t want to ditch the bike program now – we have too much knowledge – but this is pointless. There’s more opportunity in other classes.”