Mike Beam in "Comfort Zone" with Wood Brothers

Beam back in his "comfort zone" By Shawn A. Akers STUART, Va. (Nov. 17, 1998) All Mike Beam wanted to do was get his hands dirty again. Now that he's with the Wood Brothers Racing Team, that's exactly what he'll be doing. After ...

Beam back in his "comfort zone" By Shawn A. Akers

STUART, Va. (Nov. 17, 1998) All Mike Beam wanted to do was get his hands dirty again. Now that he's with the Wood Brothers Racing Team, that's exactly what he'll be doing.

After spending a season as the team manager at Bill Elliott Racing, Beam decided to go back to his roots and will return to his duties as a crew chief in 1999 in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, for the No. 21 Citgo Ford and Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Elliott Sadler.

Between 1993 and 1997, Beam spent four years as the crew chief for Elliott before giving up the position to Joe Garone to become team manager and eventually chief operating officer of Bill Elliott Racing. In between, he did a 10-race stint as the crew chief for Brett Bodine. Being a team manager, however, was just simply not for Beam. "I just wanted to go back to being a crew chief instead of being a team manager," Beam said. "The business end of it, I just wasn't comfortable with that. I wanted a change. I was tired of sitting in an office, and in some ways, doing nothing. I just wanted to go back working on a race car."

With the hiring of Beam, brothers Len and Eddie Wood, who have served as co-crew chiefs on the No. 21 Taurus since 1996, will relinquish that role and settle into a role as co-team owners. Len Wood said they were thrilled to land someone of Beam's caliber.

"We had talked to him and two or three other guys, and we knew that with us not being located in the Charlotte area, it would be a hindrance to getting a crew chief," Len Wood said. "We told him and two or three other people that if they ever decided to do something different, that they could work a couple of days in the shop here and work a couple of days where we have our car bodies hung (in Thomasville, N.C.). So, the week after Atlanta, we sat down and talked with Mike, and we hired him and we're happy that we've got him."

Beam will maintain his residence in Hickory, N.C., some two hours away from the Wood Brothers' shop in Stuart, Va.

For the most part, Beam has been a NASCAR Winston Cup crew chief since 1981, working with the likes of veteran drivers Kyle Petty, Michael Waltrip, Sterling Marlin, Bodine and Elliott. He had three different stints with Elliott (1990, 1993-94, and 1996-97).

Next season, however, he'll take on an entirely different challenge when Sadler gets behind the wheel of the No. 21 Citgo Taurus for his first full season in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Sadler made his NASCAR Winston Cup debut this past May at Charlotte in the Coca-Cola 600.

"Actually, I'm pretty excited about it, having a young rookie driver and getting back to the basics," Beam said. I think we can do well because Elliott is coming in with the right attitude. He wants to learn, and I know we're going to have some fun. Hopefully we'll be able to do well for the Wood Brothers and for Citgo."

"He (Beam) would help with anybody, especially with a rookie," Len Wood said. "He did very well with (Matt) Kenseth at Dover (Kenseth finished sixth at Dover in September in Elliott's absence). He's (Sadler) still learning, and he (Beam) can be his teacher. He knows the areas rookies need help, and I think they'll do a great job together."

Beam will not travel to Japan with the team for the '98 NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi - Coca-Cola 500 this weekend. He'll assume his duties officially when the team returns next week.

Beam has worked with the Pettys, the Elliotts and Junior Johnson, now he'll be working for one of the more famous families in all of NASCAR.

"I'm excited about that," Beam said. "The Wood Brothers have been here for a long time. I remember listening to radio years and years ago and hearing about their cars and their drivers. Having worked for those others, I guess I've completed my cycle now.

"I do want to wish Bill and them the best. It was great working for them, but it was just time for me to move on."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Brett Bodine , Bill Elliott , Kyle Petty , Sterling Marlin , Junior Johnson , Elliott Sadler
Teams Wood Brothers Racing