Englewood Speedway opened their Figure-8 division in 1964, and it quickly became one of the major attractions at this legendary and now sorely missed track. Drivers in the division had the opportunity to compete in races sanctioned by two organizations on Saturday or Sunday nights, and fans in attendance witnessed close, action-packed races week after week, with a number of talented drivers becoming fan favorites.
From that list of fan favorites, however, one name surfaces immediately when reminiscing about those good old racing days: Junior Reeder. Junior was the quintessential Figure-8 racer who lived to win. Described by friends and racing teammates as a comparatively reserved individual when outside his racecar, he was a fierce racing machine once he was strapped into it.
He followed his own rules: stand on the gas, get to the front of the pack at any cost, and NEVER lift “at the X”. The crowd always knew there would be plenty of action on the track when Junior was in the race, and probably a few tussles in the pits afterwards as well.
Junior was a mechanic by trade, and got involved in racing at the local tracks with friends in the late 1960’s. He was able to try his hand at driving cars owned by other racers and quickly found his passion in the risk-taking and general mayhem found in the Figure-8 division. While a few of his early cars were Chrysler products, Junior’s preferred rides were Chevys, and few will forget his signature number 141, bright green 57 Chevy carving up the field for the win. Perhaps the peak of Junior’s career was when he was part of a team owned by Butch Orszulak, who built three of those “five-sevens” for Junior and fellow drivers Clay Shores and Larry Woodhead in the mid-1970’s. The cars were fast and well-built, leading to some unforgettable battles with each other and the rest of the field.
To be sure, there were crashes in this rough and tumble form of competition, but if Junior destroyed a car one week, he would often have another car ready to go the following week. While it is true that Junior won a lot of races but was never a season champion, he remains the most memorable character from an era that will never be duplicated.
Junior Reeder passed away in 2010. He truly was a larger than life figure to his fans, and his status as a competitor of almost mythical proportions has only grown since. The Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame now welcomes its most colorful driver, Junior Reeder, with the class of 2023.