NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Cory Reed makes long awaited return to Pro Stock Motorcycle

Two years and 10 surgeries after his harrowing two-bike accident at zMax Dragway, Cory Reed has made his return to the Pro Stock Motorcycle class at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals.
02 Sep 2023
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Cory Reed

For Cory Reed, the road back to racing following his two-bike accident with teammate Joey Gladstone has been long and hard as he’s endured 10 different surgeries and endless hours of physical therapy to repair the damage primarily to his left leg. For all the hard work, and all the physical and the emotional pain, Reed maintains that there was never a time when he didn’t think he’d be back on a 200-mph Pro Stock Motorcycle.

“Never. Not once did I think that I wouldn’t race again,” said Reed. “I have young nieces and nephews who look up to me and I never wanted to set a bad example for them that you can’t get up when you get knocked down. It was important for me to come back and do this.”

Given his never-say-quit attitude, it makes perfect sense that Reed began plotting his return as soon as he was cleared by doctors to resume racing. While he continues to regroup with his own Reed Motorsports team, Reed found the easiest way to return was to rent a bike, so he reached out to Michael Phillips, who offered the use of his Suzuki for the weekend.

“The doctor gave me the green light about three weeks ago, and I talked to Michael. He asked if I could get down to 140 pounds and I told him I was already there,” said Reed. “He’s got a two-valve Suzuki, and that combination ran pretty well in Sonoma [with Karen Stoffer] so we did a deal.”

Reed was able to go testing and renew his NHRA competition license before heading to Indy. It’s reasonable to expect that he might be a bit rusty, or a bit tentative, but he says that was hardly the case.

“There were a couple of runs that made me stop and think about what I was doing but mostly I felt really good, “Reed said. “After you’ve been off the bike for a while, you don’t realize how fast 180 mph is. After a crash, you do think a little bit about what might go wrong. It just makes you hyper focus a bit more than usual.”

Physically, Reed says he feels fine, which is surprising for someone who has had his ankle fused and multiple bone graphs. At one point, Reed had to learn how to walk again, but he has no problem returning to racing, even though legs and feet play a big part in riding a Pro Stock Motorcycle.  

“I had a couple of lingering injuries from when I raced dirt bikes, so I’ve been through this before,” Reed said. “For a long time, we just focused on walking. I still have a little bit of pain, but it’s nothing compared to what I have been through.”

For now, Reed plans to continue racing with Phillips, and might event participate in some of the upcoming Countdown events depending on their Indy results. In the meantime, he and partner Joey Gladstone are still planning a 2024 return with their matching Reed Motorsports Suzuki entries.

Reed’s own racing program, which he shares with fellow rider Joey Gladstone, has also undergone a series of dramatic changes. The team is still racing Suzuki entries, but they’re now aligned with the KB Titan program, and they’re based at their headquarters in Mooresville, N.C. Reed has previously been based in Georgia, Florida, and Virgina, but believes he’s found a permanent home with the KB Titan team.

“We’re based in their shop. It’s a bit cramped right now but we’re going to make it work,” Reed said. “We’re doing our own engine program and its still a work in progress but we’re very optimistic. I think you’ll see us both out there next year and we’ve also got a possible rental customer for one of our bikes for the last three races in Dallas, Vegas, and Pomona.”

Reed also floated the idea that he may not be racing on two wheels for his entire career. As the son of Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Annie Whiteley, he’s got multiple options.

“My family would like to see me in something with four wheels, either Top Alcohol Dragster or Funny Car, or event Pro Stock,” Reed said. “If I had to pick, I think I’d take Top Alcohol Funny Car because I think they’re the most fun to drive. We’ve also got two of them and I’m not sure how long they [Annie and Jim Whitely] plan to drive, so I might look into that but I’ll definitely keep the bike team. That’s always been my first love and we still have a lot to prove out there.”