Written and Photographed by Ainsley Jacobs
A gravel driveway off of a winding back road in rural Eastern Georgia leads to an unassuming 40-foot by 85-foot metal building, casually situated on the quiet property of a typical all-American home. The nondescript structure could be any hobbyist’s backyard shop, as there’s no sign to hint at what’s going on within its walls. Inside, though, it tells a whole different story: inside is where Reese Brothers Race Cars builds some of the baddest bespoke chassis in small-tire racing.
Coming from a 15-year professional career in sheet metal manufacturing with a Six Sigma 5S certification, David Reese had been doing fabrication work on the side long before he set out on his own journey. He’s also had quite a bit of success as a driver, too, as his original “El Diablo” and “Blown Money” cars took championship titles in the Carolina No Time series in 2018.
“I’ve always come to work with a plan and focused on the steps and the process,” explained the entrepreneur who keeps a sharp eye on every detail. “When my kids grew up and moved out, I told my wife that I wanted to leave my job and see if I could do this for a living.”
Reese Brothers Race Cars was officially started in January of 2018, and Reese’s work has been rapidly catapulted into the spotlight thanks in part to his affiliation with Killin’ Time Racing, as well as several other high-profile drivers.
When visitors first walk in, they’ll spot a well-stocked wall of tubing and two (of three total) chassis jigs off to the right where the preliminary work is performed. The calm before the storm, the straight metal is ready and waiting for its chance to be transformed into record-setting racecar.
There’s a flurry of activity as the RBRC team is busy hustling to crank out client cars as quickly as possible. “This is where we do engine placement, front end mounts, seat mounts, and repairs if we have to,” Reese shared.
Five employees, with a sixth coming on board in early 2021, still aren’t enough to keep up with the high demand the shop regularly enjoys. Reese keeps a careful eye on everything that’s going on at all times to ensure no detail is overlooked.
When a customer calls with a new order, Reese walks through a breakdown of what they are looking for and what they want to achieve before getting to work. “We start with tubing and have a complete chassis with the body, doors, front end, and seats mounted, in about five days,” explained Reese of the process that he has down to a science. “Then, we take them off the jig, they spend three or four days in sheet metal, and we do the final fitting and welding of the belly pans, Dzeus tabs, and other things under the car.”
Incredibly, an average RBRC complete build requires about 550 hours (approximately 55 days) from start to finish. They can handle everything in-house from chassis work to wiring, plumbing to painting, engine and suspension tuning, and more.
Off to the side of the main work area, Reese’s designated “clean area” [editor’s note: a bit more cluttered than usual at the time the photos were taken, as the area also hosted the company’s Christmas party a day earlier] is where brake lines and fire systems are installed, wiring is done, threads are chased on bars, and metal is prepped for powder coating.
Organization is key, and Reese has a well-oiled system for keeping things straight—especially with multiple builds in progress at the same time. Bins for bolts, fittings, and more, as well as separate storage area for new parts, ensure proper prior planning prevents poor performance.
Reese understands the importance of loyalty, and takes a personal pride and responsibility in giving the next generation the opportunity to learn the dying arts of metal work and fabrication. He’s passing those valuable skills along to keep family tradition alive, too, as his two sons, Blake and Quentin, are both following in his footsteps as part of the team.
One of RBRC’s most recent (and most notable) builds was J.R. Gray’s nitrous-huffing “Head Shot” 2020 Camaro. At its maiden race, DXP’s Sweet 16 at South Georgia Motorsports Park in October of 2020, Gray powered to a monumental $70,000 victory in the wildly competitive Radial vs the World category.
Two months later, while racing at the Snowbird Outlaw Nationals in Florida, the car wound up on its lid (while still carrying Gray to a runner up finish in RVW) and, incredibly, sustained only minor damage. The chassis itself suffered no structural damage or bent bars whatsoever, only the body mount bars were compromised—a true testament to how well Reese Brothers builds its cars—and Reese expects to have Head Shot fully repaired and ready to race again in short order.
Rick Thornton, owner of Fast Forward Innovations, partnered with Reese earlier in the year to provide the engine program for Reese’s own initiative, a Pro Mod Corvette, that should help him make his mark in the big-tire world and in NMCA VP Racing Lubricants Xtreme Pro Mod for 2021. Meanwhile, though, Thornton’s 25.2 SFI-certified Pro 275 Camaro is also in the shop stages of fitting and assembly.
Reese also recently wrapped up work on Australian racer Jarrod Wood’s twin-turbo radial ride. “He had problems with it wheelie’ing, so he brought it to us to help keep it on the ground,” shared Reese of how he and the team relocated the engine and fabricated some new duct work. “We also changed it to a Liberty transmission with a TyDrive and had all the electronics re-wired. Now, we’re just waiting on a new rearend housing and it’ll be ready to test.”
Although the quality of his work sure speaks for itself, Reese doesn’t think he’s any better than other builders—but he knows he hustles hard and gets things done quickly. The exponential growth that the shop has experienced, has prompted him to have to expand and a new shop will be added in the new year to house his personal cars as well as accommodate a new clean area for final assembly.
“I can’t take any more work right now. It sucks to say ‘no’ but I just don’t have the capacity,” confessed Reese. Fortunately, that problem will soon be rectified, and if past performance is any indication of his upcoming years, it’s evident that Reese Brothers Race Cars still has much more success to find in its future. “Ultimately, I pray that we can continue to be self-supportive with the business. I don’t want to set any goals other than simply giving 110 percent every day like we always do.”