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BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer email@example.com
As a rookie on the ARCA Racing Series, Bakersfield's Ryan Reed has had the opportunity to compete on the high banks of Daytona and Talladega and the tricky tri-oval of Pocono.
Saturday night Reed will face another challenge: the third-mile clay oval at Bakersfield Speedway.
"I'm racing a Hobby Stock (owned by Wayne Dotson) and I'm pretty excited," Reed said. "It's my first time on dirt."
But for Reed, diagnosed with Type I diabetes in February of 2011 as he was preparing to start his racing career, the night is more about raising money and awareness for Type I diabetes, than him competing.
"The big thing is it's a JDRF awareness and fundraiser night," said Reed, who serves as a spokesman for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and also has his own non-profit organization, Ryan's Mission, to help raise awareness. "We found a Hobby Stock for me to race just to bring more attention."
Tickets can be pre-purchased today ($12 adult $6 child) at H&S Body Works and Towing (314 California Ave.) and at the track on Saturday night. Two dollars from every adult ticket and $1 from child tickets will be donated to Ryan's Mission benefitting JDRF.
As for his racing season, Reed is on a hiatus as he had funding for just 14 of the 20 races. He won't race again on the ARCA series until the season finale in Kansas City on Oct. 19.
Reed, 19, was among the top 10 in points (despite missing one race) after his last race, a sixth-place finish at Pocono on Aug. 4. He was sixth, fifth and ninth in three races before Pocono.
"We made a crew chief change and that turned the tide for us," Reed said of his strong runs in his last few outings. "We were making good mid-race calls and putting ourselves in a good position at the end of the races. I think if we started the season off that way we would have been battling for wins over the last few races instead of top-fives.
"Luckily, we still have Kansas at the end of the year and I'm looking forward to that."
As for his first season as a whole, Reed said it was a big learning experience.
"Not so much about how to go fast in the race car, but learning about team chemistry and all the different parts and pieces a team needs to be successful. There's so many more pieces to the puzzle than on (Saturday night) short-track races. When you're running 200-lap races versus 50 or 100-lap races, those pieces of the puzzle matter a lot more."
As for the most fun he has this year Reed quickly said "a couple of green-flag pit stops. Those are cool. And the car we took to Chicagoland Speedway was cool (his fifth-place finish).
"Daytona and Talladega were fun. I really hadn't thought about it. But the last five races were the most fun -- really feeling we were in contention to win races. That was cool."
Reed's father, Mark, competed in Late Models at Bakersfield Speedway before going on to compete on the old Southwest Tour series as well as the NASCAR West circuit and gave his son some dirt-track advice.
"He said to be ready to take a shower afterward," Reed said with a laugh.
In addition to Hobby Stocks, Modifieds, Sport Mods, American Stocks and Mini Stocks will be in action.
Gates open at 4, an autograph session with Reed starts at 5 and racing begins at 6.
Kern County Raceway owner James Vernon said the goal remains to have a race this year but the usual construction-type delays have left a tight timetable for that to be accomplished.
Work on putting down the final two layers of asphalt on the half-mile racing surface, as well as a single layer in the infield, is scheduled to start in mid-September and will take about two weeks. The asphalt must cure for at least a month after that.
"It doesn't look like we'll make it (racing by late October) but we're going forward like we will," Vernon said. "No matter if we race or not we will have a test session where we invite everybody out and inspect their cars to make sure they meet the rules and will be able to race (next season).
Three race car shops have been completed in the past month and construction on the infield concession/restroom building as well as an eight-bay garage on the inside of turn three is under way.
USAC Western States Midget points leader Shannon McQueen of Bakersfield will be looking for her first win of the this weekend on Calistoga Speedway half-mile. McQueen holds the Calistoga Speedway Midget track record (20.470) set in 2009. The Louie Vermeil Classic features full racing programs on both Saturday and Sunday nights.