Some guys are just born lucky and grow up with racing all around them. Everyone knows about the Pettys and Earnhardts of this world, but what about some of the others? What about, say ... David Reutimann?
We could start by taking a look at Reuti's dad, Buzzie Reutimann. But Buzzie wasn't the first Reutimann in racing.
David's great-grandfather, Emil Reutimann Sr., immigrated from Switzerland in 1910, and subsequently opened up a garage and repair shop and later a Chevrolet dealership, in Zephyrhills, Florida. His son Emil Jr. was the first to be bitten by the racing bug. He souped up a car and took it racing at the Ben White Speedway in Orlando, and thus began a love of racing that has run strong in his descendents.
The story goes that when Emil Jr. brought his "hot rod" to his father, Emil Sr. said it was the nearest thing to nothing he had ever seen. In fact, it was a "double nothing." (Not, apparently, a big fan of racing, that Emil Reutimann Sr.) And that is the origin of the "00" number that has graced the sides of Reutimann racing vehicles darn near ever since.
Emil Jr. predated Nascar, of course, but he raced and won at numerous venues around the Florida area, and he was an innovator in making modifications to his cars to improve performance. Among other things, his family remembers him making full-flow oil systems in his cars long before Chevy did! His way of teaching his sons to race was to start them out in under-powered cars, and then give them more power as their driving improved. Sadly, Emil, his son Dale (who was slated to be "the one" a la Adam Petty), and a good friend of Dale's were killed in a wreck with a drunk driver on their way to a race in 1973.
Buzzie, Emil's son, had been given his nickname by the nurses at the hospital where he was born. Seems he was making "buzzing" noises. One can imagine him already racing in his mind, just hours after his birth. He told his father when he was 13 years old that he was ready to start racing. Emil Jr. told him to build himself a car.
Buzzie began with a 1939 Fourd Coupe and put in a rebuilt Sears and Roebuck engine. He stripped it and added a roll-bar and bumpers, and painted B-00 right over the original paint. That was supposed to stand for "Buzzie's 00", but the family ended up dubbing it the "boo" car. Buzzie ran his first season in that car, but after that his father purchsed another car which had a much better engine. Once that was in the car, it became a front-runner.
Buzzie raced at tracks up and down the East Coast, and has been inducted into the Dirt Motorsports Hall of Fame as well as the Northeast Modified Hall of Fame. He made one start in a NASCAR race, the only NASCAR race ever held at the Golden Gate Speedway in Tampa Florida, in November of 1962. Buzzie started 18th and finished 10th; the race was won by Richard Petty.
Known by all for his modest, kindly demeanor, Buzzie seemingly never met anyone he didn't like, or anyone who didn't like him. And where is he now? Still doing what he loves. At last report, he's racing whenever he gets the opportunity, in a "00" open wheel modified car sponsored by Aaron's. His last win came in October of 2009. When he isn't at the track he's, well, at the track, following and supporting the career of his only son, David.
David himself has been working with the Waltrip family ever since he made it to the big leagues. And he also sports the "00" on his car. You know a family who can wear that proudly has the ability to laugh at themselves. Michael Waltrip deadpans, "We couldn't find anyone else. He works for cheap. Don't ask a whole lot out of anybody." Maybe that's how they got him to wear that awful getup for the "I love love" commercial.
David has one daughter, named Emilia, born in 2001. We haven't heard anything yet, but we figure she's probably trying on racing helmets right about now.
Thanks to Go Figure8r for the suggestion! Tell us your suggestions in the comments, or email them to Jay and he'll pass them along.