Wood Brothers Racing has been more successful than any other team at Michigan International Speedway. The Stuart, Virginia, team is the victory leader at MIS with 11 - nine with David Pearson, the first NASCAR trip to winner's circle at the ...
Wood Brothers Racing has been more successful than any other team at Michigan International Speedway. The Stuart, Virginia, team is the victory leader at MIS with 11 - nine with David Pearson, the first NASCAR trip to winner's circle at the two-mile oval with Cale Yarborough in 1969, and Dale Jarrett's first Winston Cup win in 1991.
Owners Eddie and Len Wood continue to keep their single-car team viable for another trip to victory lane at Michigan and other sites on the NASCAR circuit. The brothers are "hands-on" owners who work side-by-side with the other members of their team on the #21 Motorcraft Racing Ford Taurus - Eddie as the chassis expert and Len on engines.
EDDIE WOOD: "This past week we had four cars in the wind tunnel. We had cars at the wind tunnel in Canada on Monday - a speedway car and a road-course car. Then that tractor and trailer came home, and we reloaded it with two more cars, another speedway car and a down-force car and went back to Canada and blew on Wednesday. That group of people then flew home on Wednesday and got ready to go to Pocono. We sent Jeremy Bullins with the cars on Monday and Mike 'Andretti' Smith up on Wednesday.
"In the meantime, Pat (Tryson, crew chief) and the rest of us are getting the car(s) ready for Pocono.
"And that same road-race car that went to Canada is also being prepared for a test at Virginia International Raceway on Tuesday of this week in preparation for Sears Point.
"On Wednesday night, Len and I are going to Michigan for a sponsor appreciation program with Motorcraft, and Ford on Thursday at their offices and at Ford's Dearborn Test Track. We're going over to do some interactive stuff with the people from Motorcraft and Ford and then we're going to have a 'ride-around' with some Roush Mustangs. Elliott Sadler and my son, Jon, are going to be driving, but I think I'm going to get to drive one. At least I hope so. Elliott and Jon are going to ride Ford VIPs around and try to scare them to death. I don't know if I would get in the car with my kid or not, but I have done it so that should be okay. That's going to be a lot of fun.
"And then Friday night we are going to do a live chat session with Ford technicians. We did that last year, and that was the first time I'd ever done that, and I really liked that. There were a lot of Ford fans and Wood Brothers fans from a lot of generations it seemed like. There were some real young kids asking questions, some middle-aged people and some older people. I thought that was one of the coolest things I've ever done.
"And we are also working on two new speedway cars that we are planning to test at Talladega at the end of the month. That's two new down-force cars going together. One of them is a rebuild from the Bristol wreck, and the car we wrecked at the 600 in Charlotte are going together. And we've got a new one, too, that we'll take to the wind-tunnel later.
"We've got a lot of cars, but we've got about five cars that we want to keep in rotation all the time. The car that Elliott really likes, chassis number 35 -- the one we had at Dover and Darlington - we're going to run it at Michigan. All of the cars are really pretty much on track for what we want, but we're trying to duplicate that car for him.
"The car we ran at Pocono was similar to it, the body, but the chassis is not the same.
"We've got a lot of things going on right now.
"Len and I also try to spend a lot of time with our sponsors. You're only as good as the people behind you, and if your sponsors are not happy, then you are not here. We try to know as much about the companies and sponsors as we can. With Ford Motor Company and Motorcraft - we've always raced Fords so we know a lot about them. But I learn something new almost every week about the history of Ford. Especially since I've gotten to know Edsel a little bit better I've been reading a lot about his family and the heritage of Ford Motor Company that I didn't know. I thought I knew a lot about it, but I didn't so I'm reading more.
"The same thing with the Air Force. The more you are around these people, the more you want to know about them. We've been able to visit a lot of bases, and I've been up in an F-16 and Len has been up in a 15. And we get to meet a lot of the generals, and we've been able to see a lot of things and a lot of people that the ordinary guys don't get to see. We're really lucky with that."
LEN WOOD: "We got the Michigan engine (from Roush Racing) last week. I went ahead and dressed it and gave it to the guys to put in the car for the race.
"Then we've got the test at VIR on Tuesday so I wanted to go ahead and get that out of the way so we could have a good test and get ready for Sonoma. With Elliott not shifting since last August at Watkins Glen we want him to have a refresher. There have been a lot of teams over there. That gives him a chance to get back into the shifting mode so that when we show up at Sonoma it's not like, 'Oops, I haven't done that for a while and I need practice,' or whatever.
"Plus, we've built two new road-course cars. But only one of them will be ready for the test. We want to make suspension changes and get it ready for Sears Point to see what they can get as the best setup for racing on used tires and stuff like that.
"When they come home I'll have the race motor for Sonoma. And Wednesday morning we'll get the car on the chassis dyno and get the race car for Sonoma out of the way this week so we can go into Michigan early to spend time with Motorcraft and Ford on Thursday at Michigan.
"The engine that comes out of the car we put on the chassis dyno will go into the back-up car and we'll run it on Monday before the truck leaves for California on Tuesday."
HOW MANY ENGINES DO YOU WORK WITH DURING THE SEASON? "Last year we ran 36 races and we had 90 engines come into our shop. I figured that would come down this year with the one-engine rule, but I think we've already had over 45 engines in the shop this year. And we've only run 14 races. So we're still going through a lot of engines.
"We tested at Kentucky before Charlotte. We've got a Talladega test coming up after Sonoma. That's another thing we have to get ready for.
"My wife, Nancy, and son, Keven, and I were going to stay in San Francisco for a couple days after Sonoma. But then the Talladega test popped up, mainly because we wrecked at Talladega and we built two new cars instead of one. So we've built four cars - two road-course and two speedway cars in the last month or so. The guys have had a lot on them. So I'm coming home and forgetting the vacation to get ready for the test. We need to get those cars on the chassis dyno.
"Then the first thing Tuesday morning after Sonoma we'll take a car to the wind tunnel in Atlanta and then go on to the Talladega test.
"We want to get a base line on them. We want to get a drag number to work from. The more down force you make the more drag you will have and when you go to Talladega you don't want the drag. When you go to tracks like Pocono or Michigan you want all the down force you can get without sacrificing too much drag. That's why we took the cars to the wind tunnel in Canada last week. The guy who built the speedway car went with it, and now we know where we are with that car. And now we're comfortable with it.
"We'll take the second new (speedway) car to Lockheed in Marietta. We'll blow the car we did in Canada first to compare results from the two different tunnels. Then we can make comparisons and do modifications on the other one.
"It's fortunate that we have enough good people that we can work on so many things at once.
"The additional wind-tunnel time we have gotten since signing on with Motorcraft has made a huge difference in our program. And with the chassis dyno at the shop now we are way ahead of where we once were."