After more than forty years in business, Reher-Morrison Racing Engines continues to use technological advances to stay ahead of the competition, and COMP Cams components are a part of its winning combination.
Based in Arlington, TX, Reher-Morrison Racing Engines epitomizes what is great about American motorsports. Not only does the company utilize the latest technology to produce engine products that keep its customers a step ahead of their competitors, but Reher-Morrison also takes great pride in each engine built and sent out the door.
“For me, just getting out of bed to come to work every morning is an exciting experience,” says company co-founder David Reher. “Racing has been my passion since grade school, when I used to have Hot Rod magazines tucked inside my textbooks. I love the thought that everyday my great staff and I have the chance to create something new and faster (than before). I just plain and simple love this stuff.”
To understand the business model and mission of Reher-Morrison Racing Engines, one has to go back to the late 1960s when Reher, while working in a parts store to fund his college schooling, met Buddy Morrison.
“Buddy came in to the parts store one day around 1969 looking for a job, and we started talking,” reminisces Reher. “We both realized real quick that we had the same passion for drag racing. The friendship was instantaneous.”
The pair worked to start building a drag car, and in 1969 they entered their first race together. One year later they entered their first national event. The team got hooked on the thought of competing on the national scene, and entered several events in 1971, running primarily in the Modified Eliminator class. Not only did Reher and Morrison race together, but they saw the need for someone to produce engines and racing parts in their area, so they started their own engine business in the back of an auto parts store in Mansfield, TX, in 1971. By 1972 Reher-Morrison Racing Engines was officially born when the owners obtained a business license.
“We scoured the junkyards for blocks, cranks and cylinder heads,” Reher remembers. “When Buddy and I started our business, we had big dreams but very little money, so we learned how to make the most of our limited funds, selecting components and developing combinations carefully to get the best yield for our investment. It was amazing though even back then, because slowly but surely more and more people found out about what we were doing and started asking if we could make products for them. We didn’t start out thinking that we could make this a life-long business. We just thought that by building stuff for other people it would give us more money for our own race car.”
The team’s first big accomplishment came in 1974 during the Winternationals, when Lee Shepherd drove the Reher-Morrison Chevy-powered Maverick to the win the Modified Eliminator division. This win gave the team confidence and set a series of events in motion that would let them seriously tackle the national scene.
In 1976 the team took the big step to the Pro Stock class with a Monza, and it proved to be a trying time as they adjusted to a much stouter competition level.
“Lee crashed in Englishtown, and we couldn’t get the trick cylinder head castings we needed to be competitive,” explains Reher. “It wasn’t until we built a long wheelbase Camaro that we started to win consistently. In ten NHRA national events in 1980, that red, white and blue Z28 racked up six wins and three runner-up finishes. The following season, we developed a small- displacement big block that won six more times and powered Lee to his first of four straight NHRA championships. In the five years from 1980 to 1984, a Reher-Morrison car reached the finals in 44 out of 56 NHRA national events. In 1983 and 1984, Lee swept the NHRA and IHRA Pro Stock titles. He won every race on the NHRA tour at least once, and compiled a 173-47 win-loss record.”
Sadly, Lee lost his life in a testing accident in 1985, which had a strong impact on the team.
“Lee was a great man and racer, and is still missed sorely until this day,” Reher says.
After Lee’s passing, the team regrouped and hired Bruce Allen as driver. Allen enjoyed success quickly in the Reher-Morrison Racing Engines entry, capturing another IHRA championship and winning 16 NHRA races in 38 final round appearances. He finished third in the NHRA standings for three consecutive seasons, was runner-up to Bob Glidden in the 1989 NHRA championship and went to the final round of the Pro Stock Challenge six times.
Reher-Morrison Racing Engines was dealt another heartbreaking blow in 1998, when Buddy passed away after a battle with cancer. But his spirit still lives on at the company.
“Buddy’s amazing generosity, intelligence and humor are still with us. Racing was his passion, and we have continued to honor him by passionately working every day to help our customers succeed,” Reher says.
After Buddy’s passing the team continued to rack up accolades on the track, and the business side continued to grow and expand as more customers came on board. Reher-Morrison Racing elected to retire its racing program after the 2005 season to focus solely on the engine building business. 41 years after starting the company in the back room of a parts store, Reher-Morrison Racing Engines now boasts a top-notch facility that employs 22 full-time workers. The facility features the latest and greatest machinery and equipment, including multiple dynos and four computerized numerical control machines. Overall, Reher-Morrison Racing Engines is capable of producing just about any engine component in house.
Reher takes great pride in having been involved in a wide variety of motorsports over the years, including not only drag racing, but also NASCAR, world record engines for the Bonneville Salt Flats, various General Motors projects and just about every other type of racing imaginable. His most valued accomplishment, however, is longevity and growth.
“We’ve done a lot of great things at Reher-Morrison Racing Engines throughout our history, but I’m most proud of our longevity, and how we have evolved with the times to stay on top of our game,” Reher says. “I’m also proud that we have very little turnover with our staff. Most of our guys have been with us for the long haul, and I think that’s a big factor in the quality of our products. We have some of the best and sharpest people in the industry working here at Reher-Morrison, and it shows in our customer’s results.”
While Reher is reluctant to pinpoint any certain accomplishment of any of his customers as being the most prominent, the results don’t lie with multiple championships in NHRA, IHRA, ADRL and other series’ throughout the years.
“I just like giving every customer 110%,” he notes. “Whether somebody is bracket racing, sportsman racing or (competing in) any other division, we pride ourselves on treating everybody the same and giving them the best possible product. That’s the only way to do business in my book.”
The relationship between Reher-Morrison Racing Engines and COMP Cams also goes back many years.
“Long before there was even a COMP Cams I was friends with (Head of Research & Development) Scooter Brothers and those guys, and we worked together on projects,” Reher remembers. “When COMP Cams was created as a company it was a natural fit for us to work with them. They produce great parts and are just great people to work with. Their support is phenomenal. The bottom line is that their work ethic and ideals are a lot like ours, and we can really appreciate that.”
For more information on Reher-Morrison Racing Engines, please visit www.ReherMorrison.com.
Cover Image: The Reher-Morrison Monza Pro Stock