Two years to the day after he was diagnosed with type I diabetes, Bakersfield's Ryan Reed announced a sponsorship linked to his disease that will put him in at least five NASCAR Nationwide races this season.
Reed will drive the No. 16 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing with sponsorship from the American Diabetes Association and its Drive to Stop Diabetes campaign. His first race will be at Richmond International Raceway on April 26.
Reed made the announcement on the NASCAR Race Hub show on Speed TV but spoke with the Californian while at Kern County Raceway Park last Saturday.
"We're going to do some testing in March for my first race and I'm really excited," he said of the Nationwide deal.
As of now, the deal with Roush is for five races but Reed is hopeful he can at least double that number.
"A perfect world would be about 10-15; well, a perfect world would be a full schedule, but we're optimistic for about 10-15 races and we're going really hard for a full schedule in 2014," he said.
The seeds to the relationship with Roush Racing were planted last season when Reed drove on the ARCA series with backing from the JDRF (formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).
"We had our relationship with JDRF last year and Ford is their largest supporter and so we started talking to Ford and they put us in touch with Roush and one thing led to another," Reed said. "With Ricky Stenhouse moving up to the Sprint Cup series they had some seats open up in their Nationwide program and they had watched me in my ARCA stuff last year and were really excited. It was a good time for both of us. I was looking to move up, they had an open seat and we both took advantage of the situation.
"Our biggest goal over the past few months was to put together as much funding and partnerships as we could for the 2013 calendar."
Reed, 19, has been racing since the age of four and was diagnosed with type I diabetes shortly after moving to North Carolina two years ago to pursue a racing career. Initially told the disease would render him unable to race, Reed has been able to compete with a careful regiment of exercise, diet, medication and blood-sugar monitoring.
Once he had control of the disease he founded Ryan's Mission to help raise awareness about type I diabetes.
"The American Diabetes Association is thrilled to collaborate with Roush Fenway Racing and Ryan's Mission on the Drive to Stop Diabetes awareness campaign," Larry Hausner, chief executive officer of the American Diabetes Association, said in a statement. "As one of the nearly 26 million people living in the U.S. with diabetes, Ryan Reed is an inspiring individual and his voice is critical to spreading awareness and educating communities across the country about this disease."
The limited Nationwide schedule will leave Reed plenty of time to compete in front his hometown fans this year as he plans to run the family-owned Super Late Model in a number of races at the new Kern Country Raceway Park, where he spent Saturday tire testing.
"We ran the Super Late Model at Irwindale a couple of years ago (he was rookie of the year in 2010) so it has a special place in my heart," he said. "Right now the Nationwide schedule is pretty limited so we have a lot of gaps in our schedule to where I can race some super late model races."
As of now, Reed could compete in about eight races at the new half-mile oval west of Bakersfield, which is slated to open on April 20.
"This track is so much fun," he said of the new facility." "It's going top be the top short track in America when it opens. With the progressive banking you're going to be able to run two wide. It's just going to be an exciting race track. They did a great job and it's perfect."