Many folks are introduced to this industry at an early age – whether it be in a shop atmosphere or through some form of racing. However, not many people can say they attended their first tractor pull event at just two weeks old! In Justina Reusch’s case, that’s exactly how she got introduced to diesel motorsports and it’s been in her blood ever since.
“My dad has an Allis Chalmers D21 Super Stock pulling tractor that we pulled on state and national circuits,” Justina Reusch says. “Growing up, I was just always around the shop and in the shop helping them with the engine. When I was about eight years old is when I really started diving into stuff.”
As it became more and more clear Justina would enjoy a profession surrounding something diesel related, she went to the Medina County Career Center for the Commercial Truck and Diesel Equipment Mechanics class. She took that two-year program and then went on to attend Owens Community College in Perrysburg, OH where she graduated with an Associates degree in applied science diesel technology.
“On top of that, I had always been operating equipment and trucks and tractors as well as working on them in and out of different jobs,” Reusch says. “I also worked for a guy who had a tractor pulling sled, so I helped with that quite a bit and operated that as well. You could say diesel fuel is pretty much in my blood.”
Justina met her husband Kyle while working for his uncle in his truck repair shop during her college years and the two hit it off right away. Ever since, the couple has been farming and doing diesel truck work.
“People saw the quality of work and some of the builds that we did and people liked what we did and they started bringing their trucks to us,” Reusch says. “In 2007, we purchased our property from my parents and we had a shop here. There were trucks here before we even moved in that we had scheduled to work on. Through word of mouth, the shop grew and we got a couple of younger guys to come in and help us work and build pulling trucks and fix daily drivers. We do all kinds of repair, maintenance and modifications to trucks.”
While the shop got underway in 2007, it wasn’t until 2010 that Reusch Diesel got an official name and became an official business. In fact, both Justina and her husband still had other full-time jobs outside of Reusch Diesel.
“I helped assistant teach the Commercial Truck class at the Career Center for a few years, and my husband ran his family farm and he still does to this day,” she says. “We would come home and work in the shop till two o’clock in the morning and then wake up at five and had to go to work. He’d go feed cows and do any field work he needed to get done and work on the equipment at the farm.
“In 2011, we had our son, and we decided it would be a good move if I just took over the shop full-time, rather than trying to juggle everything. From that point on, we’ve been growing and doing more and more work. We do a lot of trucks and have become well-known in the area.”
Reusch Diesel currently operates out of a 3,200 sq.-ft. shop space, but has a total of 8,000 sq.-ft. in the overall building, which is located in Spencer, OH. The shop’s five full-time employees work on Cummins, Powerstroke and Duramax trucks for both light-duty and medium-duty applications and perform anything from regular repair and maintenance to full engine builds and performance work.
“The performance and modifications is the fun part of it – being able to build drag race trucks and pulling trucks – that’s obviously what we like to do. It’s the fun stuff,” she says. “We also like to do Cummins conversions and engine conversions, but we do have to have the regular routine maintenance and everyday in and out stuff to keep things flowing at the shop.”
Speaking of Cummins conversion work, Justina’s own 2006 Ford F350 no longer has its original 6.0L Powerstroke engine inside. Rather, it has a 5.9L common rail Cummins.
“The 6.0L didn’t like life in the truck, so we bought it from the customer and converted it to a 2006 5.9L common rail Cummins engine,” Reusch says. “It’s a manual transmission. It’s got the NV4500 transmission behind it, but I’m going to convert it to an automatic transmission, because it’s going to be way more fun to drive. It’s fun now, but I think it has a lot more potential being automatic and with the technology and capabilities that we’ve seen out of Suncoast Diesel and their support, we can really put the power to the ground with their help.”
In addition to swapping the 6.0L Powerstroke for a 5.9L Cummins engine, the build also included a larger fuel system and an S476 turbocharger with a 2.5˝ cover from Stainless Diesel.
“We were initially going to build a streetable pulling truck for the 2.5 class that was starting to go around a few years ago,” she says. “Then, we just never finished turning it into a pulling truck. We’ve just always street driven it. That’s why we put the manual trans in the truck. Now that we don’t really want to go in that direction, we just want it to be a wild animal on the streets, so we’re going to convert it to automatic and be able to rip it down the road and drag strip and things like that. It’s only as fast as I can shift the gears in it.”
Helping the 5.9L Cummins create power are D&J Precision Machine connecting rods as well as a D&J cylinder head with a milled off intake manifold, a Steed Speed exhaust manifold, and pistons from Enterprise Engine. Enterprise Engine also did the machine work on the Cummins block.
“We also used 625 ARP studs and a girdle from Industrial Injection,” she says. “We have Harland Sharp roller rockers. Columbus Diesel built my injectors and injection pump. The cam is a 220/240 from Hamilton Cams. The engine also has a Fluidampr on it. All the intercooler piping was made using polished stainless steel in-house, and the custom wiring harness and the harness to adapt the Cummins to the Ford was also built in-house.”
With the Cummins conversion complete, Justina put the truck on the shop’s mobile chassis dyno named Reality Check, where the 2006 F350 and its 5.9L common rail Cummins cranked out 900 horsepower.