At the Midwest Nationals, a race overshadowed by the violent crash of one of Pro Stock Motorcycle racing’s biggest stars, Angie Smith, Cory Reed went rounds for the first time since his triumphant return to the sport. Reed, who, against all odds, happened to be in the lane opposite Smith on that fateful qualifying run, outdrove Kelly Clontz in the opening round of eliminations for his first quarterfinal appearance since his own horrific crash at the 2021 Carolina Nationals.
“This turned out to be a pretty good weekend,” Reed said. “The biggest thing is that the bike is responding now. At the beginning of the year, we went through motor problems and only made a few real passes. This is probably the first good data we’ve gotten all year. We made a few small changes and got in some good laps – finally. We showed that we didn’t forget how to run to 60 feet.”
Reed qualified in the fast half of the field with his finest performance since switching from Vance & Hines to KB Racing power with a solid 6.87 at 195.48 mph backed up by a 6.88 at 195 on his only other attempt. It was on that other attempt when he was horrified to discover that Smith had just crashed behind him. “It was close down there,” he said. “I beat her to the finish line, so I didn’t see it. All of a sudden, I people are out on the track waving at me, and I turn around and she’s not on her bike anymore. It’s grinding down the wall, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh man,’ because I know what that’s like.”
Smith went down hard and was transported to the hospital with a broken arm, two broken feet, and road rash so bad that skin grafts will be required. “On dirt bikes, crashes are just part of it all,” Reed said. “Drag racing? That’s not supposed to happen.” He put it all behind him when eliminations commenced and put away Clontz in a race closer than anyone would have anticipated. They were only two-thousandths of a second a part on the track – 6.818 to 6.820 – but he had her all the way with a much better reaction time, .027 to .055.
Reed was out of it early in the next round opposite reigning world champion Matt Smith, who clocked a 6.75 at top speed of the meet, 203.40 mph, but this weekend was all about Smith’s wife, Angie. “I felt so bad for her on a personal level,” Reed said. “I know what she’s going through and what she’s going to go through – the pain, the sitting around, the thinking it about it all the time, the feeling stupid for crashing, the deciding if you want to even keep doing it… I feel bad for anyone who has to experience that. It sucks. It’s painful, but it’s a mind game, too. Because how’s it gonna be when you come back?”