Reed Payne: The 990-Mile Commute to Race

Reed Payne: The 990-Mile Commute to Race

Why in the world would Reed Payne commute 990 miles to race? It’s the people, said Payne, that’s why he travels from Idaho to Nebraska.

“I found that there was more racing, people were faster, nearly everyone in the pits was friendly, and competition was so much higher in quality,” Payne, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, said. “It doesn’t matter if I win. If I’m racing for ninth and Johnny Saathoff is in eighth, it would be a win to me if I could pass him for eighth. Someday I’ll make the podium. I got a sixth and everyone in the pits came up to congratulate me.”

Despite the lack of a podium finish, it’s not like Payne doesn’t have a solid track record. He earned a track championship at Atomic Motor Raceway in Atomic City, Idaho. In his native Idaho, he co-owns Ross Coin and Gun. Payne related the racing community to the gun community.

“Shooters want to help other shooters be better with their guns,” said Payne. “They like to see success. I wasn’t finding that in racing here [in Idaho]. It’s cutthroat here. You raced against the same nine cars every week. No one offered help or shared ideas. Racers just used your shit up to beat you.”

In 2015, Payne encountered racers from beyond his local area at The Duel in The Desert at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“That’s how I became friends with Jordan Grabouski and Terry Phillips,” Payne said. “Two years later, Terry borrowed my carburetor and won the 2017 Duel in the Desert. I made great friendships.”

In 2020, Payne bought a modified from Grabouski and then traveled to Nebraska to drive it. Nowadays, he competes in both modifieds and stock cars in The Cornhusker State. Payne keeps his racing operation at Grabouski’s home and stays at Grabouski’s when he comes into town.

“When my wife, Debbie, travels with me, they welcome her with open arms,” said Payne. “I feel like I am part of the Grabouski family, including uncles, aunts, and cousins.’

Reed Payne typically flies to Nebraska every other week and does a weekend of racing. That usually starts on Thursday at US 30 Speedway in Columbus. The next night is Beatrice Speedway. On Saturdays, there are several tracks he competes at. On occasion, Payne will race specials, too, on Sunday through Wednesday.

“This is my 21st year racing, and I still have so much to learn,” Payne said. “Racing out there [in Nebraska] has become one of the biggest joys of my life.”