Wood Brothers Racing will be making its 1,400th all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start tomorrow night when Trevor Bayne takes the green flag in the famous No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion.
Founder Glen Wood made the team’s first series start in a 1953 Lincoln at Martinsville Speedway on May 17, 1953. Co-owners Len and Eddie Wood spoke about what that number means to them and the reasons for why the family business has been so successful for over six decades.
LEN WOOD, Co-Owner – No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion – WHAT DOES 1,400 STARTS MEAN TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY? “That’s an awful big number for a single-car team that has run multiple cars several times, but not a lot. That’s a number that goes back to 1959 or ’60. Daddy (Glen Wood) and them started in 1950 and a lot of stuff were Sportsmen’s or Modified’s and a lot of convertible stuff, but to call it the actual Cup Series would be around 1953, but to have that many starts is pretty amazing. I’m proud to still be here.”
WHAT’S IT BEEN LIKE GROWING UP AND BEING A PART OF THIS ALL YOUR LIFE? “When I was a kid daddy would leave and late Sunday night he would come back and I was always asking, ‘What’s he doing?’ And then before long we started working in the shop and traveling and getting into that same routine and it just became part of our lives and it still is to this day. We don’t do as much of it now as we did, but it’s still our life.”
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE PART OF A FAMILY ORGANIZATION WITH SUCH A WONDERFUL LEGACY IN THIS SPORT? “It’s an honor and to have daddy and Leonard in the NASCAR Hall of Fame makes it that much bigger and better. That kind of authenticated what our family has done when they got elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Daddy will come to Daytona and sometimes Charlotte. He doesn’t travel that much, but Leonard is here pretty much every week, so it’s pretty amazing.”
WITH ALL OF THE TOP DRIVERS WHO HAVE DRIVEN FOR YOUR TEAM OVER THE YEARS AND SO MANY MEMORABLE MOMENTS, HOW DO YOU SUMMARIZE EVERYTHING YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED? “It’s hard to top the Daytona 500 in 2011 with Trevor Bayne, but looking at the NASCAR Hall of Fame again, I think 19 of the 25 people who have been inducted were race car drivers and seven of those have been in our car – one of which was daddy.
That’s the final tally as far as where you stand and how you measure up. I remember in 1998 when NASCAR was celebrating its 50th Anniversary and they had a list of what they called the ’50 Greatest Drivers’ and 20 of those drivers had been in our car. So you look back at guys like David Pearson and Cale Yarborough and A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney, Marvin Panch, Neil Bonnett – all of those guys were superstars.”
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD? HOW LONG WILL YOU CONTINUE TO DO THIS? “I don’t see any stopping, unless something changes financially. But we’ve run Fords, Mercurys and a Lincoln or two and Ford has been behind us for pretty much the whole 63 years, so it’s kind of bred in us. We bleed Ford blue, so hopefully we can continue on.”
EDDIE WOOD, Co-Owner – No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion – LOOKING AT 1,400 STARTS, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU? “It’s more than a number. I’ve been trying to figure out how many I have been to and I think I’ve been to over 1,100 because I’m ancient myself, but the two things I’m most proud about is the fact that we’ve raced Ford Motor Company products throughout our entire career, and just being able to stay here that long has been the hard part. It’s hard to stay here year after year now, much less through the ups-and-downs of the last 63 years. I wasn’t here doing this 63 years ago, but I’ve been here full-time and at every race since ’72, so we’ve had some ups-and-downs through that, too.”
A LOT OF PEOPLE VIEW NASCAR AS A SPORT, BUT IT TRULY IS THE FAMILY BUSINESS IN YOUR CASE ISN’T IT? “Yeah, it’s the family business to us and it’s a way of life. I’ve never really known anything else. I started working at the shop on race cars when I was just starting high school. I’d go there after school and work at night, and that’s just the way it is. I don’t really know what life is doing something else.”
WHAT HAS BEEN THE SECRET TO YOUR SUCCESS AND LONGEVITY? “I really don’t know. It’s just worked out that way and I guess it’s because that’s what you want to do, and that’s really what you have to do. You don’t really have a choice. I’m too old to change routes in life so far as doing something different because I don’t really know a lot about anything other than racing.
You learn a lot in here about people and life in general, which will help you in any other field. It’s always been said in here that if people worked in another field or another type of work as hard as people work on race cars, everyone would be a millionaire in here because the amount of work never stops.
It’s just one of those deals where you work until it’s time to load it on the truck and then you go racing. If you’ve got two weeks to get it ready, it takes two weeks to get ready. If you race every week, it takes one week to get it ready. You work until you run out of time. We’ve always tried to be straight-up with everything we’ve done and not try to hide anything.
We went through some pretty bad times in ’08 and it is what it is. We didn’t hide it because it was there, but with help from Ford Motor Company we obviously got it turned around and we’re still here. But I will say this, without Ford Motor Company we would not have been here for 63 years. That’s what really has been the difference are the relationships we’ve had over the years with sponsors and with Ford Motor Company as our manufacturer. That’s what has made it work.”