With 600 horsepower at his command, Josh Reaume enjoys going fast.
The 21-year-old Highlands resident’s car is fully fabricated, built from the ground up, but with a faux body mocked after a Camaro to give it a stock look. And with sponsorship from Colonial Countertops and Islandnet.com to help with costs, Reaume said he’s having a blast.
He races in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, a level often seen as a proving ground for drivers looking to race in the big leagues – the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Reaume’s team has been busy lately. He raced at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah at the beginning of the year. Next up were speedways in Iowa and Washington.
His best finish so far has been 15th. He was in line for a top 10 finish in Utah until his gear shifter broke off and he couldn’t get the car out of second.
Reaume also just finished up the course work for his mechanical engineering degree.
He sees engineering as a somewhat unique way to enter into the highly competitive sport.
He’s planning to move to Charlotte, North Carolina, where the majority of NASCAR teams call home, to join a Sprint Cup team as an engineer.
“The plan is to kind of get myself into the door with that and then hopefully end up driving for one of those big teams,” Reaume said. “It’s tough when there’s a lot of kids out there who want to be race car drivers, it’s difficult to set yourself apart. For me, that was engineering.”
In the world of racing there are drivers who just drive and drivers who know the car inside out and backwards. As a hands-on driver and with his interest in engineering, Reaume said he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He knows that a car is only as good as the crew behind it.
“A lot of times it seems like it’s just a driver, but it’s way more than that. It’s very much a team sport,” Reaume said. “If it wasn’t for the guys working on my car there’s no way I would be able to do it. I’m extremely thankful.”
Born in Redlands, Calif. and raised in Nigeria for 13 years, Reaume moved to Highlands for Grade 11.
At six years old, Reaume started racing go-karts and has been moving up into faster and faster cars ever since. The competitive nature of the sport is what keeps Reaume interested, combined with the technical aspects of building the best vehicle you can and tweaking it so it performs at its peak.
“There’s no better feeling than jumping in a race car and pushing yourself to your physical and mental limits” Reaume said. “I just love it.”
Reaume gives back to the racing community by helping out with organizing Victoria Karting. He enjoys working with the youth that race go-karts and said it’s wonderful how a young person can move up through go-karts all the way to racing stock cars at Western Speedway.
“I’d say the race culture is definitely imbedded in Langford,” Reaume said. “Western Speedway, because you’re on the Island and it costs so much to get off the Island by ferry, everyone races here and you just become one great big giant family. ... I’ve never seen that at any other race track.”
His latest race, in Portland, Ore. on Aug. 26, didn’t go as well as planned. Reaume finished in 18th place, three laps down from the lead. At the end of the race he had to head to the track ambulance for dehydration and carbon monoxide exposure, after damage sustained earlier in the race was allowing exhaust fumes into the car. Reaume said he is fine but disappointed with the result. Next up, Reaume hopes to race in Arizona in early November at the Phoenix International Raceway. His goal is to get a top 15 finish and end on the lead lap (meaning to not be lapped by the eventual winner). He hopes to move up to the Nationwide Series or Camping World Truck Series in the near future.
“That’s what it’s all about for me, just getting experience so that I can increase my driving talent and move to the next level,” Reaume said.