It’s been eight years since David Reutimann was introduced to a crowd at the NASCAR Cup Series event.
For some drivers, the retirement process can be stressful, with the desire to return to a stock car still at an all-time high.
Since retiring from the highest caliber of motoring, Reutimann didn’t think much of NASCAR, because he felt satisfied with life far from the garage area.
“Once I quit sports, I quit,” Reutemann said. “I haven’t really watched a race. I didn’t really care much. You obviously can’t hardly look at anything without seeing people talking about cars. I understand it’s a bit different than the things I’ve definitely driven. Honestly, it’s something I haven’t really pursued. I don’t have time or really interest.I’m not into sports anymore there are some really good guys in the sport.But I have to try to focus on what I’m doing here.I’m not going for a cup race anytime soon so it’s better for me to focus on a little dirt races And help these guys and try to build a business model around that.
“It’s not that I have anything against NASCAR, or that sport, because it has been so good to me,” Ryotiman continued. “It gave me more opportunities than I probably deserved. I’m kind of an all-or-nothing. So it’s as if I can’t take part in sports, the way I want to, it’s kind of an act of self-preservation, to prevent myself From falling completely crazy. I just chose not to focus on it, not because I have anything against it, it’s just because it’s no longer my favorite thing.”
Reutimann is busy in his manufacturing shop in Sherrills Ford, NC, where he makes different types of racing cars.
“I’ve been building dirty cars, building UMP and IMCA modifications,” Reutemann said. “That was pretty much what I’ve been doing since I left, and that’s what I’ve done before. I had a chance to be in NASCAR, so I’ve done it before. It’s the only thing I knew how to do, so I went back and did it.”
The Florida native has also been involved in being a crew chief at the local level, where he is Assist Calling the shots of the late driver Ryan Rackley.
However, Reutimann believes that creating a race car is more technical than ever, which makes it difficult to find a good balance in any type of car.
“Sometimes guys call and I’ll help them out a little bit with little things,” said Reutemann. “I don’t do that much anymore, because frankly, it’s all too technical anymore. Whether it’s on the pavement or surprisingly on the dirt side. People often associate dirt things with being more backward than pavement things. Nothing can be Far from the truth.Pavement materials are very technical, and dirt cars anymore are crazy technology.You either have to try and stay on top of one or the other.But it’s almost impossible for me, with my limited intelligence, to do both. I’ve kind of decided to stick with one I know more about. , which is earthy material.”
Recently, a two-time winner of the NASCAR Cup Series helped kids who want to learn what it’s like to start in a dirt race car.
“(I have) some kids that I’d love to take. They just arrive and drive something of some sort,” Ryutemann said. “They showed up, and I have a fully equipped car. I race them at night, and at the end of the night they come home, and we do a fair amount of that, plus build race cars and things like that. “
Even though Reutimann is still racing, he doesn’t find time to jump back into the driver’s seat.
“I probably run 10, 12 times a year, which is really all I have time to do,” Reutemann said. “When there’s an opportunity, and it won’t conflict with our other commitments, I’ll at least sneak in and race a little bit here and there. It happens less as the years go by.”
Reutimann’s journey to the NASCAR Cup Series has been the most unconventional. He competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series in his mid-30s, before taking home his first full-time Cup Series Tour in 2008 at the age of 38.
“In all honesty, by the time I got to the cup races, when I finally had the opportunity to do so, I feel like I’m past my peak period at that point,” Reutemann said. “I feel like I hit the peak and started going back down the hill a little bit when I had that chance. We still got two wins. I wish I was younger and had that chance, like a lot of the other guys. I’m just grateful I had the chance at The start. There aren’t many players my age who go into the sport and get that kind of opportunity.”
Reutimann’s big opportunity came in 2007, running a few races for the newly formed Michael Waltrip Racing team. It was also the year the Car of Tomorrow was introduced in 16 races of the Cup Series.
“I think when I started MWR, I really don’t think they could have started at the wrong time,” Reutemann said. “You had COT coming, but you still had the traditional car. So, they had to build a team basically from scratch, and they had to build two different kinds of cars, for a team of three cars. It was a huge job. Looking back now, I don’t know. How did they get it done. It was such a huge transformation. It’s a transitional period big enough to go into one Series Cup from one Series period to another.
“It’s a big shift, there’s so much to learn, there’s so much to wrap around, it’s tough.”
After leading the majority of the 2008 season in the #44 MWR entry, Reutimann moved to the #00 Aarons Dream Machine Toyota.
The following year, the team started moving forward.
“The cars were getting better, they weren’t wrestling with the cars,” Reutemann said. “Changing the weight, building them lighter, I feel like building them better. They worked really hard, and they’ve come a really long way in a short amount of time when you think about it. When I went and looked at the shop for the first time, when they were building it, it was raining, it was Wet The place had no roof at the time.
“There was a sliding doge stuck in the middle of the shop because there was no cement floor or anything, it was just mud and mud and such a mess,” he continued. “I’m thinking, ‘That’s never going to happen, man.'” “And they’ve done it. So to be from that point, and then in a couple of years to be at least be competitive, and become more competitive, I felt like that was huge. And that was a big deal.”
Ryutiman broke his way to claim his first Cup Series win at one of the NASCAR Crown Jewel events – the Coca-Cola 600.
A red flag was put on the race due to rain just after halfway and Rodney Childers, Reutimann’s crew chief, made the race win call.
“It was a race that we never looked like we were going to start, or even start with, with all the rain and all the things that were going along with that,” Reutemann said. “I just remember being there, just a typical deal, I was in the rain before it stopped and restarted and all that stuff.
“When my chief of crew, Rodney Childers, asked me to stay outside, it was kind of a surprise. I thought we’d come in, we were going for eleventh or twelfth, and we were pretty fit at that point. I was also able to go up there and get the fence with it a little bit, So Rodney knew we were going to have to pull some of the front right fender. He thought we would lose track anyway, fixing the fender.”
Then the sky rained, paving the way for an unexpected victory.
“He made us stay outside and the next thing you know we got off on a pit road and it took a long time,” Reutemann said of the decision to contact the race official. “Part of me thinks I should just sit there on a pit road waiting for the rain to stop as long as everyone seems to be dragging their feet into it. They finally decide to break the deal.”
Underdog winners in any form of sport are usually lauded. However, this particular victory did not please many.
“Honestly, I knew the whole deal wasn’t going to go well,” Reutemann said. “I wasn’t driving when it rained. Rodney just took a stunt and it obviously paid off. I knew there were a lot of people unhappy with it. The drivers, not so many, because they all got it. But, from a fan’s point of view, yeah, A lot of people were upset about it. Either I wasn’t their guy, or they didn’t think I deserved it or whatever. I definitely understood that. I get it 100 percent. But that’s how I wrote the rules, and Rodney played it perfectly.” .
Looking back on the unpopular triumph, all Rottmann can do is sit back and smile for now.
“At this point, you just have to laugh,” Reutemann said. “I still get paid, I still get the cup. It’s like getting paid for a full day of work and only working half the day. That’s kind of what it’s about.”
Achieving a victory at the highest level for NASCAR, in any circumstances is a game changer. However, the pressure Rothmann felt to achieve another victory, was always on his mind.
What I felt was, ‘Do it the right way,’ said Reutemann. ‘That’s the way you want it to be.’ When you think of your first win, your first cup win, rain never relates to it. You think about outsmarting men like Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, and all the great men. That’s what you imagine.”
That victory came at Chicagoland Speedway in 2010.
Reutimann led 52 laps, beating NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon to claim his second win in the Cup Series.
“Whenever we went to Chicago, we had a good car, and we ran well, we had the best car,” Reutemann said. “We did what we needed to do that day. Between the Coke 600 and that point, it looked like we were starting to belong. People should have expected us to go up front, or run in the top 10, and be consistent. That’s What we expected of ourselves. It didn’t always work out that way. It was kind of a time to be a part of that organization. The guys worked so well together, the cars were getting better. I felt like we were making some money. I felt like everything had potential, to click in that. time. I’ve never felt like this before.”
Reutimann ran another season with MWR and switched between various other teams before calling it a career in 2014.
As he looks back on a career filled with struggles and triumphs, Reutimann views the relationships he had at MWR as memories he will keep forever.
“The people I started with at the time, the vast majority of them were the same people I ended up with on the cup side,” Reutemann said. “We’ve all kind of gone together. I think that’s the one thing I miss the most in the sport, it’s the group of guys I’ve been missing. When I was in the Busch series, even when I rode the 99th in the Busch series, I had a great Busch team. Some really strong players in the cup team, and I ended up having a good cup team too.So, I just miss that aspect of it.
“Men you can count on, guys you enjoy being around, really enjoy being around and being cared for,” continued Ryotiman. “I think this is very rare in sports across the board in a lot of situations. I just enjoyed the friend and they were always there for you even when you were wrong. They will fight for you, even if you are wrong and you know you are wrong, they still make sure they are on your side. I don’t think you can put a price on what I think is probably what I enjoyed the most and what I probably miss in the sport.”