Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 2, Page

his year marks the 34th in operation for Reher-Morrison Racing Engines, now led by master engine builder David Reher after his longtime business and racing partner Buddy Morrison passed away in 1998 from cancer. R-M fielded Sportsman race teams as early as 1970, but made the jump in 1976 to Pro Stock with legendary driver Lee Shepherd behind the wheel of a Chevy Monza.
Before his death in a 1985 testing accident in Oklahoma, Shepherd and the R-M team combined for 26 NHRA national event victories and four straight (1981-84) NHRA Pro Stock championships. Additionally, in 1983, Shepherd became the first driver ever to win simultaneous NHRA and IHRA Pro Stock season titles, then backed it up with a repeat performance the next year.

For the past 20 seasons, Bruce Allen has steered R-M’s entries, racking up 16 NHRA national event wins along the way. After an on-again, off-again 2005 campaign, Allen and Kenny Koretsky were involved in a spectacular and terrifying high-speed crash that destroyed both of their cars last October at Las Vegas. Fortunately, both drivers escaped with relatively minor injuries, but R-M’s season was over.

In addition to running R-M Racing Engines, Reher pens the popular “Technically Speaking” column for National Dragster and conducts a highly lauded race engine school several times each year at his Arlington, TX-based shop. DRO recently caught up with Reher, 55, at the R-M shop and asked him about his team’s future, the progress of Pro Stock, rules making, and what it will take to sustain interest in the class.

By Ian Tocher, Photos by Ian Tocher and courtsey Reher-Morrison

First, how is Bruce Allen’s recovery coming along?

REHER: Actually, he’s doing quite well. As you know he injured his hand and had to have some skin grafts, but they’ve come along very well. He’s in the shop every day, he works as a machinist, he's a partner in the business, and when he does machine work he’s at the point now of not even having to wear a glove on it. So it’s coming along well.

What about the team? Will you be racing with Bruce as your driver again this year?

REHER: I’d have to say it’s tentative, but more than likely we’re not going to be out there this year.

Is it a sponsorship problem that’ll keep you away?

REHER: Well, it’s a combination of a lot of things. I guess you could say that somewhat, but it’s just kind of the way things are going. You know, there’s not really sponsorships out there in Pro Stock that will cover the cost of running something. But I was going to say that we didn’t make the decision based on having the accident. As you probably noticed, we didn’t make the summer swing [last year] and we had skipped some races before that, which we had never done. It’s a combination of the times catching up with us.

Pro Stock itself has just escalated to the extent that there are just a few teams that have sufficient outside sources and it’s turned into a deal where it’s everybody’s full-time job on these 10-, 12-, 15-member teams and we came from an era where we raced because it was a passionate thing and we raced from within. We never really had outside income, Reher-Morrison Racing Engines has always basically been self-sufficient and we’re just simply not a large enough operation to sustain the escalation that has gone through in the last three to five years—which has been quite remarkable. I never thought I’d see the cost of doing it go up so rapidly. It just went for years and years at something fairly parallel to inflation, but it basically just took off.

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