STUART, Va. (June 27, 2000) - Elliott Sadler and the Wood Brothers CITGO Ford flash back four decades this weekend at Daytona, hoping to capture the magic of the 1960s. The Wood Brothers earned 31 wins during that decade - the most impressive of...
STUART, Va. (June 27, 2000) - Elliott Sadler and the Wood Brothers CITGO Ford flash back four decades this weekend at Daytona, hoping to capture the magic of the 1960s. The Wood Brothers earned 31 wins during that decade - the most impressive of which came in 1963. The special 1963 paint scheme this weekend represents when Tiny Lund replaced Marvin Panch at the 1963 Daytona 500. The win marked the first of four triumphs at the Daytona 500 by the Wood Brothers team.
Glen Wood, founder of Wood Brothers Racing, recalls the win.
"We were in Daytona for three weeks prior to the race and Marvin had agreed to race a Masarati. Marvin had already qualified 12th for the Daytona 500 in our car. The tires on the Masarati were about 5 inches wide. They were half tread and half slick and were hard as a rock. When Marvin went down the backstretch the car broke loose and flipped upside down and caught on fire. Well, with the Masarati being upside down meant he couldn't get out of the car because of the way the doors opened. They opened upward towards the roof of the car so Marvin was trapped. A group of us jumped into a station wagon and took off to where the accident happened. Tiny Lund was actually one of the guys with us. We all turned the car back over and as the weight came off of the door Marvin kicked the door open and he got out. I just knew he was burnt up but he ended up only missing about four or five races."
The accident not only left Panch unable to drive the car, it also left the Wood Brothers without a driver. "We knew we had to find somebody," said Wood. "As we began looking around to see who was available we realized Tiny didn't have a ride. So we said well let's try Tiny and it turned out to be fitting. We chose Tiny because we knew how tough of a race car driver he was. We also knew that if we could choose for anyone to be running 2nd with us leading it wouldn't be Tiny. He had the reputation has a hard nose driver so we picked him and it worked out great for us."
Glen Wood recalls the race as though it were yesterday and he speaks of every moment with emotion.
The race started under caution because the track was still wet from rain. Once the field took the green the first round of pit stops came under caution, on lap 36. "The entire race was filled with ups and downs for us," said Wood. "When the first caution on lap 36 everyone pitted. We decided then that we needed to run at least 40 laps for fuel mileage purposes. Even if we could make it 40 laps we were going to be 4 laps short at the end. So, we decided to gamble and run 42 laps on the next 2 runs, which would leave us with 40 laps to race at the end. We felt sure we could make it and we were the only team to try it."
With less than 20 laps to go, Fred Lorenzen and Ned Jarrett were in front of Tiny Lund and the No. 21 Ford. Lorenzen pitted with about 10 laps to go, which left Jarrett with the lead. With about 5 laps left Jarrett was forced down pit road for fuel, Lund and the No. 21 Ford never looked back.
"The other crews kept coming down and asking us when we were going to bring Tiny in for gas," said Wood. We told them we could go the rest of the way. Finally the announcer caught word of it and he said over and over, "Can they make it? Can they make it?" Between him and the other people around us we were beginning to wonder ourselves if we could make it. We were all tense on the last lap but we prevailed and won the race. He even ran the next lap and drove it down pit road. It was an emotional win and one of the most memorable ones we've ever had. During the 500 miles we never changed a tire. That's the only time I'm sure that race was won on the original set of tires. The tires had tread like a street tire but it was a bigger, harder tire."
Leonard Wood, Glen's brother, was crew chief at the time. Leonard has been with the team since its inception in 1950 and views the 1963 race as the most rewarding win he's ever been associated with.
According to Leonard Wood, "Our pit strategy paid off. The other guys had to stop and we didn't. We decided to stretch our pit stops and Tiny had a great run all day. It was a Cinderella story. Tiny helped rescue Marvin from the fire and then he went on to win the race. That race is probably the most rewarding race I've ever been involved with."
The Wood Brothers have 96 wins to their credit and Glen Wood has been a part of them all. He ranks the 1963 win in his top-3 of most memorable races. According to Wood, "The win with Tiny in 1963 at Daytona, the win with Pearson at Daytona in 1976 and the win with Dale Jarrett at Michigan in 1991 are my favorite wins. When you win as a driver people seem to think there is nothing like it. I've been fortunate enough to win as both and it's just as much satisfaction to win as a car owner as it is as a driver."
Glen Wood is reflecting on 50 years in racing during 2000 and says this weekend and the special paint scheme will bring back a lot of good memories. It will not only make him think of their first Daytona 500 win. It will make him reminisce through 50 years of Wood Brothers Racing and he's thankful to have pioneered and survived in a sport where others have failed. He's grateful for all they've achieved on and off the track.