A Can-Am connection within NHRA Top Fuel drag racing is paying higher dividends for one of Canada’s most famous racing teams…

Legendary Canadian race team owner and motorsports patriarch Barry Paton had a very nice “performance bone” thrown his way during the recent NHRA Circle K Winternationals at Pomona recently. Now armed with a very determined up-and-coming driver talent and with a car better equipped mechanically, Barry and his team, which are based from Paris Ontario, experienced a very positive start to their 2017 racing season.

With Shawn Reed at the controls – the Paton Racing TF dragster had a career quick ET at the season opening NHRA event.

At that race with Washington state-based Shawn Reed at the controls — the Paton Racing Top Fuel dragster secured their highest qualifying position yet within NHRA Top Fuel racing (#11) when Shawn ran the team’s all time quickest elapsed time at 3.814 secs.

For Shawn Reed who is a migrant to NHRA Top Fuel dragster racing from within the ranks of supercharged drag boats – the Pomona event performance and experience was but the latest cog within his racing career advancement.

Shawn Reed

“I got my Top Fuel licence during the first part of 2015 and raced at three events (with the Paton’s) that season,” confirmed Shawn. “Then in 2016 we got out together four times – qualifying at all four NHRA races we entered. This season with some help from my long time sponsors (Barb and Floyd Hughes and Jason and Mirana Sutton) and their company Hughes Oilfield Transportation – I will have funding for an expanded schedule – up to 10 NHRA races are planned.”

Reed, who had toyed with the idea of going Top Fuel racing after first meeting with Barry’s son Todd Paton back in 2010 admitted that the decision to cross over to NHRA Top Fuel did require some risk on his part.

“I did have some sponsor prospects but realized soon that you can’t ask people for their help seriously unless you are doing it first,” Shawn reflected. “So I had to bite the bullet financially initially – get my licence and get things started. Over the last few years I’ve developed a great relationship with Todd and Barry to the point now that Todd is like a brother to me and Barry is a second father. And I think all that holds well for the future for our team.”

Shawn Reed admits that he has now too become a convert from a drag boat to dragster perspective.

Shawn Reed’s supercharged drag boat (Photo courtesy of Mark Rebilas)

“Over the years I’ve done well with my boat stuff,” he added. “But I’m now looking for something that is more of a challenge and racing over here (in NHRA Top Fuel) for sure provides that. Anybody who thinks driving one of these cars is just point and steer is very much mistaken. There is a lot to do and — believe me — it’s really fast out there!”

Barry – Shawn – Todd

Potenial Ridden Progression

Also of special note — the Paton Family Top Fuel dragster is in fact overall quite an improved combination for 2017. Following even more unrelenting dedication by highly touted race team member and fabricator Mark Morris over the off season, the Paton’s dragster received a number of important upgrades. The end result being that this race car is now a much lighter piece and thus more competitive then ever before.

“After we ran that 3.84 (secs) at almost 320 mph at the World Finals last year – we knew we were on the right path,” said Barry Paton. “So over the winter we made a lot of improvements — things like a smaller fuel tank, titanium rear axle assembly and a lighter fuel system. But the biggest change was going to a new Aerodine Composite body. We got that from the Leah Pritchett team at a reduced price.  In addition to shaving weight it offers a lot of convenience working on the car.”

Part of the Paton Racing dragster off season diet included this state of the art Aerodine Composite body.

“In total we knocked off about 92 lbs and — in this sport — that’s really night and day,” Barry admitted. “Top Fuel racing is all about overcoming inertia. For example when you take weight like that out it equates to 2/100ths to 60 feet and that extrapolates down the race track. Our car is still a bit heavy compared to other teams out there – who weigh everything on the car right down to the ounce. We’re not quite at that point yet.”

Race fans can look forward to seeing the new stealth looking Paton Racing TF dragster in action in both Canada and the USA this season.  The team returns back to competition this weekend at NHRA Phoenix.   But in addition to the NHRA events that Shawn Reed has leased to drive, Todd Paton will also have some stints in the race car, including select additional NHRA national events and some match race appearances. We have confirmation that Todd will again be a star attraction for next summer’s edition Canadian Nitro Nationals at Cayuga Dragway.

Posted by Bruce Biegler
Photos by Bruce Biegler and courtesy of Mark Rebilas (www.RebilasPhoto.com)