CORNELIUS, N.C. - Race fans see a violent crash like David Reutimann’s Aug. 15 crash at Watkins Glen and naturally hope the driver is not injured. As a crewmember the range of emotions are much broader and intense. It’s not only their driver, but their friend whose safety hangs in the balance. Below are some of the thoughts of the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota crew at Michael Waltrip Racing who watched that crash and reflected on the safety systems they oversee that enabled Reutimann to escape serious injury.
JAY FABIAN, SHOP FOREMAN: “Every day when you come to work, it’s about performance and safety, both go hand in hand. We were all watching the race in the break room, it was a bad feeling to watch the car take two direct left side impacts the second one in the air and then the tumble, and it was not a good feeling. You have confidence every day that you do your job well and the safety is going to hold up, but in an impact like that you don’t know what you’re going to hit or how you’re going to hit it or how many times. It was not a good feeling, but then to see him get out – it was great. You’re confident that you do the right job every day and every time you work on the car, but an impact like that takes its toll on you for sure.”
NATE KENNEDY, INTERIOR MECHANIC: “You don’t even think about it as your race car driver out there getting hurt or as a company situation – you think about it as your friend. At least I do with David. He’s a down to earth guy and when you see something like that happen…it makes you realize there are a lot of things bigger than this racing world. David has a family and a young child and you think of those things. His spotter is his cousin; anytime he has one of these wrecks, you hear it in Shawn’s voice. It almost brings more panic to you when you start hearing that. That’s when it hits home and everything slows down. It’s a really surreal situation. We landed back here from Watkins Glen and Shawn Reutimann texted me and said, ‘I know we give you a hard time, but on a serious note I wouldn’t want anyone else strapping my cousin in this car.’ It gave me chills from head to toe.”
SCOTT SWIFT, TIRE SPECIALIST: “It was pretty scary. I didn’t actually see the wreck when it happened because I was in the garage, but I saw it on the replay and it was pretty hairy. It worried us because Shawn was hollering on the radio trying to see if David was okay and we got nothing. Once we saw him get out of the car that was a big relief. It’s just amazing the way these things are built these days that you can actually have a wreck that bad and walk away.”
TRAVIS STOCK, UNDERNEATH MECHANIC: “There were two other hits prior to his that day with Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch. Those were very hard hits and it’s just good the safety of these cars has come such a long way from the beginning to what the COT car has brought now. NASCAR and everybody has brought a safe car, NASCAR and MWR with all of their safety features, and Randy LaJoie with his seats.”