Reid Millard shares his love for car racing and helping others through the toughest time of life.
When Reid Millard was a kid, two things caught his attention: funeral homes and car racing. Although it might seem like a strange matchup on the surface, both of those passions would play a deep and pivotal role in his life decades later.
Growing up, Millard’s grandparents owned a busy floral shop in Brilliant, Ohio. Right across the street was a funeral home where Millard began working as a young boy. Although it would be the start of a lifelong career in funeral homes, he was also shaped by his first experiences on the dirt racetracks up and down the Ohio Valley.
“I remember when I was really little, my dad took us to Debo Raceway,” Millard recounts. “One guy went through the side of the fence and then came back through the other side to get back in the race. I enjoyed the heck out of it!”
It was a feeling Millard never forgot. Years later, after settling in Jefferson City when he bought his first funeral home, Millard sponsored his first race team to get back around racing. He would eventually take his passion a step further and get behind the wheel as driver. It’s been full speed ahead since then.
“I needed to have an outlet and hobby, so I thought racing would be perfect,” Millard says. “People should try new things that are a great outlet for them. Go out with people you love and have fun.”
Millard and his pit crew travel together to 30 to 50 races a year around the Midwest. They hit Speedweeks at Daytona every year in February, which is three races in six nights, as well as a race in April at one of his favorite dirt tracks in Missouri, the Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland. It is a busy racing season.
Although Millard is passionate about his hobby and trying new things, his steadfast work of helping people through their toughest time of loss continues to be his lifelong passion. He now owns 11 funeral homes in central Missouri and works with a great staff to ensure every detail, and there are many in a funeral process, are taken care of seamlessly.
“I have been blessed to be involved in a lot of services throughout my life that have made a tremendous impact,” Millard says.
One includes the funeral of former Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan where Millard was integrally involved in all the details, including making the suggestion to have the funeral on the Capitol Lawn where more people could pay their last respects. The other was a recent funeral of a long-time friend from Houston. His friend asked for three simple requests when he died, Millard says. First, call his personal undertaker, Reid Millard; second, make sure they said the Lord’s Prayer and the Fireman’s Prayer at the funeral; and third, to get a hold of his friend, George, because he was supposed to be at his funeral, but it looked like his funeral would be happening first. George turned out to be former U.S. President George H.W. Bush.
And the list goes on and on of funerals Millard has done his best to make special. He has also tried to give back to the Jefferson City community that has been so good to him over the years.
“When you make your living in a community, it is important to give back to those who have helped your business be successful,” he says.
Generously giving back is a poignant lesson he learned at an early age back in Ohio. When he was six years old, his aunt and uncle suddenly passed away and their four children came to live with his parents. Suddenly, they went from four kids to eight kids in the house, and when his dad was out of work and they were at their lowest, a lot of people in the community helped out.
Millard continues to treat each day as a generous gift. He does it surrounded by his large extended family, including those at the funeral home, in the community and on the racetrack. He laughs as he shares about his racing family.
“The camaraderie in racing is such a family affair,” he says. “One minute they’re throwing a wrench at you and the next letting you borrow a tire—just like a family.”
For more information on Millard Family Racing, including upcoming races, visit www.millardfamilyracing.com or keep up with the family on Facebook. Steve and his family are proud to call Jefferson City their home.