Wood Brothers Racing co-owners Eddie and Len Wood attended their first-ever NHRA drag race event this weekend at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. As guests of Bob Tasca III and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team, the Woods were able to get an...
Wood Brothers Racing co-owners Eddie and Len Wood attended their first-ever NHRA drag race event this weekend at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. As guests of Bob Tasca III and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team, the Woods were able to get an insider's view of drag racing. Both Eddie and Len talked about their trip to Joliet and compared NASCAR to NHRA racing.
EDDIE WOOD -- co-owner, No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion
"It's hard to put into words. This is one of the coolest things I've ever been to -- ever. We were always racing somewhere when the drag race was close by and we never really had the opportunity to go. We were talking to Motorcraft and the guys at Ford Racing about wanting to go and we picked Chicago. We got to go to the starting line. You see people on TV standing there, but until you experience it, and that's what everybody told me, 'It will change your life,' and I believe that. The feeling you get in your chest and your whole body -- you can feel that horsepower, from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. To me, that was the most impressive thing. And I love the smell of nitro. Yeah, it burns your eyes and all that, that's okay, but I really like this. I like the smell of the rubber. I like the smell of the nitro. I just like everything about it. The people are very, very accommodating. The fans are friendly, the drivers and the people that work on the cars; everybody is just great. This is really a good atmosphere. The group as a whole, NHRA, has something to be proud of."
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE WEEKEND, SO FAR? "Everything about it is my favorite. Tomorrow we'll see the eliminations. Everything we've seen so far has been qualifying. Being down on the starting line and being right nearly three feet away from the cars when they light them, that's got to be the high point of it. You can't describe it; you've got to go do it. It's that big."
CAN YOU COMPARE NHRA RACING TO NASCAR? "When they pull up to the line, they've done the burnout and they're getting ready to go, it reminds me at our races and they fire them off when they say, 'Gentlemen, start your engines.' That's kind of the same feeling. It's the feeling that I had when I was a kid and now I still have it. You never lose that. To me, that's the most exciting part of our racing or this race or any race is after they sing the anthem and start the engines. That to me is the coolest part. To compare it to this, that's the comparison I can make."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CREW MEMBERS REBUILDING THE ENGINE AFTER EACH ROUND? "That's unbelievable to do that. I think they take it all the way down to the bare block in 12 minutes and have it back running in 25 more minutes -- that's unbelievable. I've seen it on TV and I knew they did it, but to watch them do it, they're almost choreographed. Everybody knows what everybody else is doing. They don't run into each other. It's kind of like our pit stops. Everybody's got to do what they are suppose to do and not get in each other's way. That's impressive. Everything about this is impressive, the hospitality, the stuff they do here with Motorcraft is second to none. They really take care of the people. At the end of the day, the fan is what really matters in this sport, our sport, any sport. It reminds me a lot of NASCAR. NHRA takes care of their fans and that's what it's all about."
ARE YOU PLANNING TO ATTEND ANOTHER NHRA RACE? "Absolutely. I'm already trying to figure out which one I'm going to come to. I think we're not racing the weekend NHRA is in Charlotte, so we'll definitely be there. I'd like to go to one of the older tracks. We've got Darlington and Martinsville, and those tracks mean a lot to me, so I'm sure there are drag strips that are like that that have history to them. They're racing in Englishtown next week, that's an older one, Pomona and Gainesville. I'd like to go to Indy. This is kind of like the racing we do everywhere, every race is a big race. Each one has it's own characteristics. This is good stuff."
AS GUESTS OF MOTORCRAFT, WERE YOU ABLE TO SPEND TIME WITH DRIVER BOB TASCA III? "Bob is great. He's a good driver and good host. Obviously, from what he's got going on here, he really gets the marketing side of racing. I've learned a lot from him, just things he does and how he conducts himself. He gets it. He's very passionate about driving his Funny Car. He's a perfectionist, I can see that, which that's what it takes to be successful in any kind of racing. He's got the right stuff, there's no doubt about that. One thing that I'm really proud of is to get to know him and his family because we have a lot in common. His family has been racing for generations as well as ours but the one common thing we've all got going, the common bond is the Blue Oval. We've never raced anything but Ford Motor Company products and they're the same way and I think that's what brings us all together."
LEN WOOD -- co-owner, No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion
"It's amazing to what these guys work. To tear the engines completely down in 12 minutes, then reassemble them and be running in 45 minutes after they just finished their run -- that's amazing. I understand more about it now the way they've got everything. It's almost like a modular type deal. They've got their heads prepped ready to go on the next set. The blower is all prepped and ready. Each thing is a unit and you just pack about five units together and you've got an engine. It's amazing."
YOU WERE READY TO HELP THE CREW MEMBERS RE-BUILD THE ENGINE THIS WEEKEND. "Yes, I wanted to help. I wanted to touch it."
WHAT WAS THE MOST INTERESTING PART OF THE WEEKEND FOR YOU? "The pounding your chest gets when the official starts the tree and then the cars are gone. You feel like your chest is going to explode. That is something you don't get on TV. Between the pounding of your chest and the smell of the nitro, if they could bottle that and send it as part of your TV package, it would be better on TV. It's amazing."
CAN YOU COMPARE NHRA TO NASCAR? "I was thinking about similarities and differences. They've got to run four seconds, we've got to run four hundred miles. They use a couple sets a tires a weekend, we use 18 sets sometimes. Their pit stop, so to speak, is changing the engine, and they've got 45 to 50 minutes to do it. Our pit stop happens several times a race and it better be quicker than 15 seconds. I think both sets of fans are passionate about their sport. In NHRA you can probably interact a little better with the drivers and see the cars and smell the fuel. It's a little bit harder to do that at a Cup race, but then again, they probably have about 30,000 or 40,000 people where at a Cup race, you're looking at 100,000. You've got to manage your crowd. It's still about who can beat the other guy, the competition."
UP TO THIS POINT OF THE WEEKEND, TASCA HAS MADE FOUR RUNS AND HAS 16 SECONDS OF DATA. DURING YOUR RACE WEEKEND, YOU USUALLY HAVE A NUMBER PRACTICE SESSIONS AND QUALIFYING. HOW DOES THAT COMPARE? "With drag racing, they have data acquisition, Tasca can show us exactly how fast he was running at certain points of the race track, how quick he got to the gas, when the driveshaft started to go haywire to when the clutch melted. We're not allowed to use data acquisition, so we rely more on the driver's feel and the crew chief's gut instinct on what to do based on what the driver thinks. When we test, we have the data acquisition on it and rely on it then, but at a race, we can't do that. That's a cost containment thing, but once you've got it, you've got it until someone comes out with something new, then you have to have that. Bob is very into what is going on. He was watching those graphs and showing us a near perfect run. Now, that near perfect run he can compare if he goes to Englishtown next weekend or Charlotte in the fall. This near perfect run is if you can exceed that."
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE PITS? "The way it's laid out, Tasca's stuff is more like a workshop, more like what we use to have. We've been here with a lathe and drill press in our hauler, but we kind of got away from there. They're rebuilding the engine all the time, where we rebuild the car all the time, sort of. Not really the body, but re-doing the springs or shocks or bump stops or something about the suspension is constantly changing and the engine gets very little. We have to be ready to go when we get there, change spark plugs and things like that. This is an engine with a car around. We have a car with an engine in it. This is more engine focused. The 8,000 horsepower is amazing. They pretty much have more in one cylinder that we've got total. Somebody asked if we could make 8,000 horsepower and go around the race track. I don't think it would make the turn."
-credit: ford racing