Reds Kagle is a former NASCAR driver from Greenbelt, MD. He competed in twenty-five Nascar Grand National Series events in his career, racing part-time between 1954 to 1961. Despite not racing enough to place well in points, Kagle did manage to earn nine top-tens in his career. His best finish was a pair of 5ths in 1958. He also raced well in the Nascar Convertible Division.
Reds was one of only two 5-time track champions of the famed Old Dominion Speedway 3/8 mile oval. He had hundreds of wins up and down the East Coast during his career. His first Nascar race in the Grand National Division was in 1954, competing in just one event that year. Sixty-four entries started that event and Kagle came home 17th driving a Studebaker, earning $175.00. His career continued part-time in Nascar until 1961 when he competed in 3 events. His Grand National career totals included 25 starts, 3 top 5's, and 9 top 10's. 1958 was hisbest season as a driver, finishing in the top 5 twice and scoring 7 top 10's in 14 events. He was one of the best on short tracks, battling legends like Roy Hendrick, Jack Bland and Bobby Ballentine on his was to several wins and track championships throughout his storied career.
A much loved and respected racer in the Mid-Atlantic region, Reds did it all. He was an outstanding driver, carowner, mentor and crew chief. He owned the famous #8 modifieds that Johnny Roberts drove to many feature wins in 1964 and 1965.Bobby Allison asked Reds to mentor Davey Allison at the beginning of Davey's career. Reds was also a crew chief for Clifford Allison. In addition, he founded Monster Racing at Dover.
Mr. Kagel suffered a stroke in the early morning of August 15th, 2011 and remained in critical condition until his passing two weeks later on August 29, 2011 at age 79 with his loving wife Diane by his side.
Kagle is best known for a horrific accident he had at the 1961 World 600 that cost him his left leg when a guardrail impaled his racecar. After blowing a tire on lap 220, his 1961 #2 Ford tore up about 50 feet of guardrail. Somehow the guardrail ultimately went right through the car, through the engine compartment, the firewall and exited through the door jam, cutting Kagle’s left leg almost completely off.
The Charlotte News noted that two of Kagle’s children, ages 5 and 4, were scooping up rocks with plastic spoons in the infield when the accident occurred and were not told about it for several hours. Kagle’s wife was also at the track and went to the hospital with her husband, whose leg couldn’t be saved and was amputated above the knee. The race was under caution for 25 laps because of Kagle’s accident, but it continued after the guard rail was hurriedly repaired. It was noted that the guardrail was supposedly and perhaps hastily installed backwards, allowing the rail to split at it's joint.
The accident did not make him leave racing permanently. Driving with an artificial left leg, he won several championships at a lower-level track in Maryland.
“It could have been a lot worse, though,” Kagle told a reporter in 1973 of the accident in the 1961 Charlotte race. “I could have lost the leg I pump the gas pedal with.”