When I was introduced to the local racing scene back in the mid seventies, the Reutimann brothers were firmly established as fan favorites in the Tampa Bay area. Buzzie, Wayne, and Dale were among the most dominant drivers at both Golden Gate Speedway (the asphalt track now long gone) and East Bay Raceway, the dirt track located just south of Tampa.
It all started in the early twenties when Emil Reutimann moved his family to the small town of Zephyrhills, Florida. It was there that he started the family business of working on Model A automobiles.
Emil started out as a mechanic, but it wasn't long before he was experimenting with differrent ways to make a car go faster. Emil Jr. shared his fathers need for speed and soon they both were participating in car races with friends and neighbors in a small field just outside of town.
By the time little Emil L. (Buzzie) was born racing cars had become a part of the families life. If anyone was ever destined to become a race car driver it was Buzzie. It wasn't long after he started working on cars that he began building his own to race along side his father against all comers.
Buzzie was followed in the tradition by younger brothers Wayne and Dale. While the older brothers Buzzie and Wayne were on the road in the northeast making a name for themselves, younger brother Dale was back home racing with his dad in central Florida. In fact Dale was developing into a very talented driver and according to older brother Wayne, " if any of us would have made it he would have". That hope ended late one afternoon when Dale and his father were killed when a drunk driver crossed the center line of U S Highway 301 and crashed head on into their truck.
It is now over thirty years later and one of the family has made it to the big show. David Reutimann has taken the family tradition all the way to the top. He represents three generations of drivers who were also skilled mechanics and fabricators who built their own cars and established a reputation of being a class act.
David now drives for Michael Waltrip Motorsports and is out there on the biggest stage in American sports. Being from the same area I feel a sort of kinship to the Reutiman family. I grew up not far from Zephyrhills and traveled the short distance on Highway 301 to Golden Gate Speedway to watch Buzzie, Wayne, and Dale tear up the track and competition.
Being a part of NASCAR's top series has always been a dream shared by the Reutimann family, but to have the 00 on the side of David's car is truly the stuff of which dreams are made. You see the Reutimanns not only have a rich tradition in racing, but have been associated with the 00 since the early days back in Zephyrhills.
David now continues the proud tradition of the old 00 and of living up to the family creed of going first class all the way.
RIP, NASCAR, Part 3
5 months ago