Aaron Reutzel already had the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 championship wrapped up when he rolled into Rossburg, Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in late September.
All he needed to do was fire off and take part in the show – the All Stars’ portion of the 4-Crown Nationals – to clinch the title. He entered the finale hot off a win at Hagerstown, his 15th ASCoC victory of the season.
He would compete in the Outlaws-sanctioned BeFour The Crowns Showdown later that evening – the prelim to the next night’s 4-Crown, which included the All Stars finale. But, though it was still early in the afternoon, Aaron was busy removing his visors from his helmets, cleaning them and adding tear-offs to be prepared for the night’s racing.
In 2018, driving under the newly-formed Baughman Reutzel Motorsports banner, he had won nine features on his way to capturing his first All Stars title.
This year, he was intent on topping his previous year’s performance and capturing another championship with the series, and he did.
Indeed, the pressure was now off, and there was an air of relief and calm as Reutzel continued prepping his equipment for the evening while discussing his career and his strong season.
By December of 2017, Reutzel’s racing career was already in full swing. He had notched an ASCS Gulf South Region championship in 2009, his second season behind the wheel of a sprint car. He took his first shot at the ASCS National Tour in 2011 and earned a top-10 point finish and the Rookie of the Year honors.
Reutzel was on the cover of this publication’s June 2015 issue, when we proclaimed that he was in the midst of a breakout season, and he was.
He had made his 410ci sprint car debut in February at the 2015 Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown at Arizona’s Cocopah Speedway and led during two of the five nights’ features before finally capturing the win in the series finale over a star-studded field.
Reutzel earned a top-five finish in his first start with the World of Outlaws, and he claimed the win at the Peter Murphy Classic at Tulare.
He made his Knoxville Nationals debut that year, with a 17th-place finish in the B-Main earning him the Rookie of the Nationals honors. And, he returned to the road for a full ASCS National Tour schedule and was the series’ winningest driver that season, taking seven features on his way to earning the championship.
By December of 2017 it was no secret that Reutzel was a threat in either a 360 or 410. In that year’s running of the Knoxville Nationals, he not only made the Saturday night A-Main, but had earned the Hard Charger Award after coming from 19th to seventh.
But, five days before Christmas, an unexpected phone call slammed his career into overdrive.
It was a call from some fellow Texans, racer Josh Baughman and his father, Mike. Josh and Aaron had formed a friendship over the years running together with the ASCS. That season, in particular, their friendship had solidified.
The reason for the Baughmans’ call was to request that Reutzel come up to their home in Odessa to discuss a proposition.
When Aaron met with the Baughmans, they laid out a proposal to join forces and form a joint race team.
“[Josh’s] business was taking off, so he needed to be home a lot more,” Reutzel explained. “His kids (Hayden and Brooklynn) are getting to where they’re starting to play sports and do stuff like that. So, he needed to slow down a little bit, but they already had all this equipment and stuff. They already had, basically, an Outlaw team.”
Two days later, Baughman Reutzel Motorsports was formed.
The goal was to compete for the All Star Circuit of Champions title as well as select WoO events. With no time to spare, the new team forged forward to prepare for the start of the 2018 race season.
They skipped the All Stars events in Florida, but after towing west for the March 9 Outlaws show at Thunderbowl Raceway, in the team’s third night of racing, Aaron proceeded to outduel Cory Eliason and Donny Schatz to earn his first career WoO feature checkers.
In victory lane, Reutzel gave much of the credit to crew chief Grant Boyum.
“He’s turned into one helluva crew chief. This was him tonight; he just kept digging on the car. I kept complaining about it and telling him what I thought was wrong and he worked his butt off.”
In August, Aaron and crew had posted an impressive run at the Knoxville Nationals, finishing fourth in the big show on Saturday.
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