A spotter's role involves...
A spotter's role involves being especially focused when his driver is in a jam.
Shawn Reutimann has a dual identity. During the week, he works at his older brother's body shop as a mild-mannered estimate writer. On weekends, he flies from Zephyrhills, Florida, to Craftsman Truck Series races to spot for his first cousin, driver David Reutimann.
Reutimann says he and David are more like brothers than cousins, since they've been going racing together most of the last 15 or so years.
"Being related and being around him all our lives, I know what he's talking about and can relate it to the crew chief, maybe better than he can," Reutimann says. "Some spotters just make paychecks, but I'm more careful. When we're clearing a car, I might wait an extra 6 inches to a foot than another spotter might."
Darrell Waltrip, David Reutimann's truck owner, drove Cup in the '70s when there were no spotters, and he raced through the early years of spotters.
"You've got to think [like] a driver," Waltrip says of a spotter. "The good thing about Shawn and David is that they grew up together. He and David have been working together all through David's career. You need somebody you can trust. You need somebody you feel like is driving the car, just like you are, being on the same page, telling him stuff he needs and not telling him stuff he doesn't need to know.
"Shawn's done a good job with that. They've gotten along well, and I'm pretty happy with that."
A NASCAR official met with spotters before the Fall race at Martinsville, offered announcements, and took roll call. During the race, the official walked back and forth behind the spotters and sometimes talked to some of them.
When his driver is all alone...
When his driver is all alone on the track, a spotter can breathe a sigh of relief-but only briefly.
Among Shawn Reutimann's acquaintances on the spotting stand were Jerry Adcock, the spotter for the No. 4 Chase Miller team, and Billy Holbrook, the spotter for the No. 77 Brendan Gaughan team.
"If the 77 truck gets into me," Adcock says, making it sound really personal, "I don't go to Billy Holbrook about it. Every week, they [NASCAR officials] remind us that we don't drive the cars.
"I've seen spotters cuss up here, but I've never seen it get too rough up here."
David Reutimann finished Third in the 2006 Truck Series points, and this season he'll drive Michael Waltrip's No. 00 Nextel Cup cars and the No. 99 Busch Series cars.
"The wildest things always happen at Daytona or Talladega," Shawn Reutimann says. "Two years ago at Talladega, David was Fourth on the white-flag lap. Matt Crafton blew a tire and turned David into a whole row of trucks. He ended up 14th, but he didn't finish. He wound up against a fence."
Shawn says he talks to his cousin constantly at Daytona or Talladega.At a short track such as Martinsville, he'll talk to David once on each straightaway.
Adcock says that Bristol's probably the toughest place to spot, adding that Bristol, Martinsville, and Richmond are small enough that the spotters have to stay on their toes.
"Any short track is difficult because you're running so close together, and things happen so quickly," Waltrip says. "It's more like trying to spot at Talladega. You've got people inside, outside, front, back. You've got to be quick. When you tell a driver he's clear, he's got to make that move in a hurry because the hole will close up quick if he doesn't.
"Daytona and Talladega are the toughest, but Bristol, Martinsville-any of the short tracks-are difficult, too. A spotter's got to be able to anticipate, to be able to look at what's going on. He's got to be looking ahead of the truck. He can't just watch it going around."