Motorcraft Racing - Glen Wood interview I

GLEN WOOD, founder of the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team, will be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on April 18, 2002. Prior to this prestigious event Motorcraft Racing Media Relations...

GLEN WOOD, founder of the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team, will be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on April 18, 2002. Prior to this prestigious event Motorcraft Racing Media Relations will release the transcript of conversations with Glen and other members of his family describing the history of his team.

The fourth of these releases deals with the defining moment in Wood Brothers Racing history. Glen talks about why he almost closed the doors and the circumstances that kept the team in the sport.

GLEN WOOD bio information
Birthdate: July 18, 1925
Place of birth: Buffalo Ridge, Virginia
Residence: Stuart, Virginia
Wife: Bernece
Children:
Eddie, 4/8/52
Len, 4/17/56
Kim Wood Hall, 3/29/61
Occupation: Team Owner
Years with team: 52
Years in racing: 52

Part I
Glen Wood - "In about 1960, I almost quit then."

WERE THERE DIFFICULT TIMES? "Oh, there's always difficult times in racing. It seems like more now than then. In about 1960, I almost quit then. With no factory support or anything - they had pulled out in '57. What little stuff I had then had about run out in '60. I had bought a car, a '60 Ford that the upholstery had been burned out of it. It hadn't hurt the body much, but it burned all the inside out. I bought it and fixed it up as a race car. I ran it a few times at short tracks around. Curtis drove it a time or two. That was the year that the Charlotte Motor Speedway was built. It was right rough from the first race. It tore up real bad in the first World 600, and this was the fall race. They called it the National 400 at that time. I hadn't planned on going. Curtis was a part owner in the track. He and Bruton (Smith) owned it. He called up and wanted me to bring a car down. I told him that I hadn't planned on running it. I believe Tom Pistone or somebody had done a tire test and tore the tires up and run through the fence. I just told him that I wasn't going. I didn't care to drive it myself. And he said to bring it down and he'd drive it. And he was supposed to drive one of Holman-Moody's cars. He said he'd get in mine and Speedway Thompson was down there helping him at the speedway and he said he'd let him drive his. So we got down there and I guess John Holman hadn't agreed to this. Anyway, Curtis was so busy running around there and we just put Speedy in our car. Well, Speedy was just getting on with it really good and running as good or better as Curtis was in his car. So we just left him in it, and he went out there and won the race. The first superspeedway race we ever won was in 1960 with Speedy Thompson. So we won a new car on top of the purse. They gave us a new '60 model Ford. So Paul Sawyer's race at Richmond was probably the following week. And Paul came up and said, 'I'll give you twenty-five hundred dollars to bring that car and Speedy to Richmond.' He said, 'I'll give you either a thousand or fifteen hundred to bring the other car for Joe Weatherly.' So we took both of them down there. And Speedy won that race. I'm not sure where Joe finished. I thought third, but I'm not sure, but I know they were running first and third a lot.

"That was at a time I was fixing to quit and then we run a race or two. Along late in 1960 Ford Motor Company began testing high-performance spindles and steering parts. And they tested this over at a dirt track in Concord and Curtis and some of them were over there and asked if I wanted to come along and watch the test. And they brought the car up here to the shop and did some things with it. That sort of lit up a little spark that if they were doing that they just might be getting back into racing - although they said no, they were just making the parts available to the ones that drove Fords. I decided I would buy a new '61 Starliner just in case they did because I knew if I was ever going to be back with Ford I'd have to have a car. We took that to Daytona on our own, and sure enough down there Ford had some engines they would let different ones use. You had to give them back, but they would let you use them, and a few rear-end gears they were testing. They would let us test them and then give them back. They didn't do much that season, but in 1962 they were back in racing. And then we got cars and parts from them."

DID YOU EVER CONSIDER RUNNING ANOTHER BRAND? "Not at that time. Basically, we've stuck with Ford the whole time. We tried to stay with what got us there."

YOU HAVE NAMED ANY NUMBER OF THE BEST DRIVERS IN NASCAR HISTORY. WHAT WAS IT ABOUT WOOD BROTHERS RACING THAT ATTRACTED THE TOP DRIVERS IN THE SPORT? "At that time we had a good race team, whether I was driving or anybody else. We had one of the best pit crews, or the best in most all of racing. We won a lot of the pit races. Most all of the brothers stayed together. A lot of the teams changed people a lot, but we didn't. We had all the same ones and they got used to each other. We practiced pit stops a whole lot more back then than anybody else did. I think it was just the fact that we had a good team back then. We went to Riverside, California, and took a car there four times for Dan Gurney in '64, '65 and '66 and '68. And Dan won all four of them. In between that, we had Parnelli Jones and he won that one in '67 in a car we got from (Bill) Stroppe. Cale had wrecked our car and we didn't have one, or a spare car and we borrowed Stroppe's and won that race. Back then we had a good crew all those years and Leonard was good with the engines."

WHEN DID THE TEAMS START GOING TO THE CHARLOTTE AREA? "I don't know how long that has been going on, ten years or more. Buddy Baker had a team out of Mooresville and one or two others moved there. It must be something about the property taxes there."

DID YOU EVER CONSIDER GOING DOWN THERE? "No. The boys thought one time about going down there or starting a team down there, but there is no reason for us to leave home and go down there. You can get parts so quickly up here, and you just stock the parts you need all the time anyway. So it's not that big a deal to be that far away. It has some advantages and some disadvantages."

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES? "Your help isn't going to be hired by the other ones. A lot of them just move across the street. It's a little bit different up here. They live up here and they aren't going to go down there for another dollar. We keep the same people."

DID EDDIE AND LEN WANT TO RACE? "I never encouraged them because I thought it was dangerous, more dangerous than some people think it is. I did get hurt one time at Asheville-Weaverville Speedway. It was a dusty track. I went into a pile of cars wide open and didn't know they were there, and it smacked my face down into the steering wheel and broke my nose. I almost quit after that. I guess I run a few races after that and sort of forgot about it. They never asked me or said anything about it. If they had any 'want-tos', they didn't tell me to let them drive one and see what it was like."

WHAT ABOUT JON (GLEN'S GRANDSON AND EDDIE'S SON WHO IS RACING IN THE NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES FOR JACK ROUSH) RACING? "Well, I didn't encourage that for the same reason. I just decided to let Eddie and him to make the decision. And then if that is what he chose to do, and he has, we are 100 percent behind him now, but I didn't encourage him. If something happened I couldn't have that on my conscience. He's doing well. I'm real proud of him. Everybody I talk to says, 'You know that Jon, he's going to be a good driver.' And I say, 'Well, he already is.'"

WAS THERE EVER A QUESTION THAT THE TEAM WOULD STAY IN THE FAMILY? "No, Eddie and Len just came up and became a part of it. No, there's no question I don't reckon about that."

WHAT WAS YOUR SPECIALTY IN THE SHOP? "I took care basically of the wheel bearings, greasing of those, and putting on part of the braking. I set up gears, Leonard and me together did that. I let him check it to see if it was okay and things like that. He had done more of that than I had so I would always get it together and then it was about five minutes for him to check it."

WHEN DID YOU RETIRE? "About the time we built the new shop or a year after that. I'd been looking for someone to do what I had been doing for quite a while, and Larry Kroplin and that is exactly what he does, basically what I was doing and that let me loose. Now, Mama's got me cooking. I really don't do much of that. She does most of that. I just get it ready for lunch because the whole family still comes here for lunch."

DO YOU SPEND ANY TIME AT THE SHOP NOW? "I don't go in there and do anything. I go in there every day when I don't have anything else to do. I do yard work and gardening. I hated gardening and farming when we grew up because we had to do it, but now I do it because I want to. I love to see stuff grow, even a flower, a tree."

HOW MANY RACES DO YOU GO TO NOW? "I didn't go to many last year, maybe three or four. It is so hard to get in and out. And a lot of them are so far to go to. The plane that takes the team, they need the seats for somebody that works rather than somebody going to watch."

WHAT WAS THE DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER? "I guess it would have been in 1960 when Speedy Thompson got in the car at Charlotte and won. That could have been the moment that put us ahead enough that we could continue on until Ford picked us back up in 1962. It was late in 1960. We had the parts left over from the '57 stint with Ford - like axles and hubs, steering parts, spindles and a few engines that maybe we had then. And with a little addition here and there that carried us over into about 1960, and then by running a few races and working in the saw mill I managed to keep enough money going to support the team and make a living between the two. Then in '62 we were back full steam with Ford Motor Company. Then they quit again. I guess it was at the '70 Daytona 500 they came up with the shocker. We didn't know anything about it. That was shock. I asked Ford what we were supposed to do with the parts and the cars and all, and they said they are yours, and we would hope you would use them for what they were given to you for as long as they last and you can do it. So that's exactly what we did."

-ford motorcraft-

The Wood Brothers: Moving the 'Least Number of Feet from Home': Part II

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About this article
Series Vintage , NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dan Gurney , Parnelli Jones , Buddy Baker
Teams Wood Brothers Racing