Paton Racing and driver Shawn Reed have amicably parted company and will not be racing together in 2019, though both parties plan on competing in Top Fuel this season.
“Shawn explained that he wanted to pursue other opportunities and I support his desire to do so,” said Barry Paton, owner of the Paton Racing Top Fuel dragster. “We’ve enjoyed having him drive our car since earning his Top Fuel license.”
The Paton team is continuing to prepare their car for their 2019 debut at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, where the team posted a runner-up finish last year with Reed at the wheel. The team has not named a new driver, but Todd Paton, Barry’s son, could drive the car as he has in the past. The team also is working to improve on the 3.8-second performances they clocked in 2018.
“One of the biggest changes will be the switch to the six-disc clutch that many of the top teams are running,” said Todd. “Bobby and Dom Lagana help us out a bunch, as well as Scott Palmer. We run a similar setup to both Dom and Scott’s cars, and hope to see the same performance gains they have experienced by switching to the six-disc.”
The split marks the beginning of a new career path for Reed, a championship-winning drag boat pilot who has enjoyed backing from Hughes Oilfield Transportation. Reed began his Top Fuel career by licensing in the Paton entry in 2015, then has run campaigns of three, four, and, the last two years, 10 events. In 2018, Reed finished 15th in points.
Reed, who is based in Lake Tapps, Wash., plans to compete this season with another established team, details of which are expected to be announced later this week.
“I love the Patons; they gave me everything they had, but it was just time to look in a new direction,” explained Reed. “Barry was like a father to me and Todd like a brother and we took that car a long way together, but you never know how long you’re going to be in this business, and I just wanted to go somewhere that I thought could help prolong my career in chasing sponsorships. We’ll both be out there this year and I’ll be rooting for them and every time they win a round, I’ll be there high-fiving them. I wish them great success.”