DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 15, 2002) - It is fitting that Leonard Wood will be inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame in the same month the NASCAR Winston Cup Series visits Michigan ...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 15, 2002) - It is fitting that Leonard Wood will be inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame in the same month the NASCAR Winston Cup Series visits Michigan International Speedway (MIS).
With Cale Yarborough's victory in the inaugural NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Michigan in 1969, Wood Brothers Racing began a winning tradition at the 2-mile MIS oval that spanned 22 years. Eleven of their 97 series victories have come at MIS, making them the all-time winningest car owners there.
For their efforts over the years, the brothers have received many accolades. Glen Wood was inducted into the NMPA Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame in 2001 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2002.
This month, Leonard Wood will join his older brother in the NMPA's hall.
"It's a great honor after all these years," Wood said."So many people have been so nice. We've enjoyed great relationships with NASCAR and Ford Motor Company, it seems like they are part of our family. Now, to get inducted into the Hall of Fame, it's very rewarding."
Wood, 67, served as the team's crew chief until 1990, calling the shots for 94 of the team's NASCAR Winston Cup victories.
While the job description of today's top NASCAR Winston Cup crew chiefs has evolved into something of a general manager or coach, Leonard Wood went over the wall. He was regarded as one of the best tire men on pit road, changing right fronts on the No. 21 Fords.
Wood's hands-on approach underscored the team's emphasis on pit stops. In the 1960s, the Wood Brothers teams routinely made pit stops 20 seconds faster than anyone else on pit road. Today, pit stops are the most critical element of every team's race day strategy and the stops are getting faster every year.
Wood's reflection on his team's improvement 40 years ago rings true today.
"At that time, we saw that there was room for improvement and we started working on improving the pit equipment and the areas we could change," Wood said. "After you work on it, you find you can do it faster than you thought you could."
The history of Wood Brothers Racing is as long as the history of NASCAR itself, with its beginnings on the Daytona beach-road course. Thirteen of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers raced for the Wood Brothers including Buddy Baker, Neil Bonnett, A.J. Foyt, Dale Jarrett, Junior Johnson, Fred Lorenzen, Tiny Lund, Marvin Panch, David Pearson, Curtis Turner, Bob Welborn, Yarborough and Glen Wood. After more than 50 years of fielding a NASCAR Winston Cup team, Wood's competitive nature is as strong as ever.
"I started when I was 15, Glen was the driver and I was the chief mechanic," Wood said."I still come to the shop every day and go to every race. I feel like I still enjoy winning as much as I ever did. The thrill of winning - that's what keeps you going."
Wood, a resident of Stuart, Va., will be inducted into the NMPA Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame on Aug. 31 in Darlington, S.C., along with Dale Inman, Bud Moore and Ed Otto.