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1964: The Wood Brothers, a road trip and a surprise driver
Noted road-course racer Dan Gurney won the event and Marvin Panch finished second to give Wood Brothers Racing a 1-2 finish in the Motor Trend 500 at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. The name of the fellow who climbed aboard the car in Greenville, South Carolina, however, has been lost in the mists of time. Say what? The year was 1964 and crew chief Leonard Wood , along with brother Ray, was transporting Panch's No. 21 Ford across the country, returning from Riverside to the team's shop in Stuart, Virginia. After a brief stop for dinner in Greenville, the two resumed their journey, planning one more stop in Charlotte, North Carolina. "People were standing around the car, it was 20 degrees," Leonard Wood told NASCAR.com regarding the brief break for a quick meal just across the South Carolina state line. "Normally you'd stop and talk to them a little bit but it was so cold we just jumped in the truck, pulled away and left." The first sign that the two had picked up an uninvited passenger, Wood said, came about halfway between Greenville and Charlotte when their truck "started making this noise and we couldn't figure out what it was." "Ray said 'You can even feel it in the roof. It's vibrating the roof!' " Leonard Wood recalled. Initially, Wood said he thought the loud vibration was the result of a jet aircraft, "so I'm looking around to see if I could see an airport," he said. Neither crewman realized the vibration was coming from the race car, and the engine being revved wide open. But the noise soon stopped so the pair continued on up the road, unaware that a none-too-sober gentleman had climbed inside the race car back in Greenville during the food stop. When they arrived in Charlotte for one final stop, Wood said the noise and vibration had resumed. And this time he realized it wasn't coming from any aircraft. It was coming from the race car on the back of the open truck. "I looked in the side mirror when we got off the highway and I saw steam coming out the exhausts of the race car," he said. "I knew something was wrong and I told Ray to stop this thing. "I saw what looked like a person in the car behind the wheel and I thought, 'Man, one of the crew members is trying to pull a trick on me.' Of course I bypassed that thought immediately because I thought 'There's no one on the crew that's going to be stupid enough to get in that car as cold as it is.' "I look in there and this guy's got Marvin's helmet on. I said 'What do you think you’re doing in here?' and he said 'Let's go!' " In the meantime, Ray Wood had gotten out of the truck, still unaware of the inebriated passenger. With help from Leonard they attempted to pull the unwanted fellow from behind the wheel. "I said 'We'll let you go in a minute,' grabbed ahold of him and jerked him out," Leonard said. "He got his foot hung and was hollering and squalling. We turned him loose and he just settled back in there and got comfortable again. He had a little bit to keep him warm, liquid wise." As fate would have it, a local law enforcement officer happened by and stopped to see what was going on. After explaining the situation, the officer gave the "would-be racer" another ride -- this one in the back of a patrol car. Panch, who would go on to win three times that season for the Wood Brothers, had told Leonard after finishing second at Riverside that the motor had been about to blow near the end of the race. "When I got home," Wood said, "I said, 'Marvin, that thing was good for another 100 miles!' "But the funniest thing is Glen ( Wood , team founder) had passed us in the station wagon and didn't see the man in there. "If he had, he would have had a heart attack."
Wood Brothers reveal Blaney's No. 21 Virginia Tech car
RELATED: Bristol unveils Colossus video screen Ryan Blaney 's No. 21 car will feature a special Virginia Tech football paint scheme this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway , and Wood Brothers Racing unveiled the look on the gridiron Monday morning. Racing's "Last Great Colosseum" is host to the Tennessee-Virginia Tech college football game on Sept. 10., and the No. 21 team is helping get the party started early. Hokies coach Bud Foster poses with Leonard Wood and the VT car Friday. Winners ❤️ winners ❗️ @coachfostervt & @NASCAR icon Leonard Wood #LPD #Hokies pic.twitter.com/08sVU7nxTr — VT Football (@VT_Football) August 15, 2016 "Virginia Tech has been a big part of the Wood Brothers for a long, long time," said Leonard Wood , who helped his brother, Glen, found the race team in 1950. "We've been friends with Coach Foster and just met the new coach [Justin Fuente]. I never dreamed when my daughter was going to Virginia Tech that we’d have a race car on the practice field here at Virginia Tech. It's just awesome. "That 'VT' on the hood just jumps out at you and I love the color combination. It's one of my favorites." The Virginia Tech scheme also will run at the Goody's Fast Relief 500 held Oct. 30 at Martinsville Speedway , and Hokies junior wide receiver Cam Phillips likes the Ford's look. #Hokies @camphil5 @iaf_1 pic.twitter.com/Lrlx39JZNf — VT Football (@VT_Football) August 15, 2016 "You've got colleges and you've got football teams, but Virginia Tech is our hometown college team. We pull for them all the time," Leonard Wood said. "Hopefully they'll win. We'll be racing in Richmond on the night of Sept. 10, the night that they're playing in the Battle at Bristol, so we won't be watching the game, but we'll be paying attention. We'll be watching Twitter."
Blaney's Darlington scheme -- and loafers -- an ode to the Silver Fox
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It is perhaps the most memorable paint scheme among many for the organization, but when your team has been around from the beginning, the options are no doubt plentiful. "When I look at that car, I immediately think of David Pearson," Leonard Wood said Tuesday at the Hall of Fame while standing in front of the iconic No. 21 Ford. Pearson and Wood enjoyed a lengthy tenure, the Silver Fox winning 43 times for the team with Wood calling the shots as crew chief. The paint scheme chosen for this year's Bojangles' Southern 500 throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway is a nod to the 1976 season, a highlight year among many for both Pearson and the WBR organization. The 2016 Ford Fusion that will unload for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Labor Day weekend features the same red and white paint scheme with blue piping down the sides as the Mercury Montego wheeled by Pearson. The Pearson name adorns the driver’s side door below the window just as before; the wheels are silver and the No. 21 lettering has the gold foil look that became so familiar. Driver Ryan Blaney’s uniform mimics that of Pearson's as well, a white outfit with blue across the right shoulder and stripes of red, blue and red again running down off the left shoulder. On Tuesday, Blaney was even outfitted in alligator loafers similar to those worn by Pearson during his driving days. Eddie Wood , who today oversees the operation of the team along with brother Len and sister Kim Wood Hall, said the choice of the 1976 look was "the right thing to do" to celebrate the accomplishments of four decades ago. "This is pretty much as close as you can get to (the look of) that car in '76," he said. The car on display Tuesday even carried five sticks of Wrigley's gum taped to the dash, a staple for Pearson during his tenure with the team. One stick for each 100 miles. Pearson's alligator footwear came from a local business, Price's, in his hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina. "They had thick heels on them," Eddie Pearson, David's son, said. "He'd take them back in about every six or eight months and have them re-soled." Because the team did not run the entire schedule during his tenure, Pearson, a three-time premier series champion and member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, did not win a title with the Wood Brothers. But he won plenty of races. And the '76 season was perhaps the highlight of his stay with the legendary organization. Among his 10 victories that year were the Daytona 500, World (now Coca-Cola) 600 and Southern 500, earning him NASCAR version of the Triple Crown. The Daytona 500 victory featured a last-lap crash with Richard Petty as the two came off the final turn, both sliding to the infield as they fought for the win. "I remember asking him, 'Can you get him?'" Eddie Wood said of the incredible finish. "He was running second (on the white flag lap). He said 'I'm going to try' or something like that. You never knew what he was going to do … how much he had left." With no television monitors in the pits to track the action on the track, the team had no idea what was taking place after the field zoomed past. "When they got to Turn 3, the crowd starts to stand," Wood recalled. "Things are really going nuts. And he said, 'I got him' on the radio. They come off of (Turn) 4 and he says, "Richard's under me. He got under me.' And then he said 'We hit.' "The whole place goes nuts, me included. … We didn't know what was happening, you couldn't see. Then we saw Richard come sliding (across the infield), and here comes David … he's spinning backwards – he actually hit a car that was coming down pit road … and that kind of straightened him up and helped him back out into the infield. But he said 'Where's Richard?'" Told Petty was stopped in the infield grass along the frontstretch, Pearson told Wood , 'Well, I'm coming.' He got going and won the race." It remains one of NASCAR's most incredible, unforgettable finishes. "To understand it all, he's spinning backwards and his (radio) button was on his shoulder harness, it wasn't on the steering wheel like it is now," Wood said. "He knocked the car out of gear, had the awareness to ask where (Richard) was – he almost needed like three hands (to do all that). But there was never, never any emotion, just matter of fact. Like talking on the telephone." Wins also came that year at Atlanta and Ontario, and Pearson swept races at Riverside, Michigan and Darlington. His 10 wins came in only 22 starts in what was then a 30-race season. Blaney, competing for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors this season, was excited to see the new look his car will carry. "It's awesome," Blaney said. "I love the whole throwback concept at Darlington. To be able to do this really cool paint scheme this year – I think we're going to have the best-looking race car out there. "I've always enjoyed the Wood Brothers cars; they're simple, but I think they're the best looking ones."
2013 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Inductee: Leonard Wood
Leonard is second member of the Wood family to make the Hall of Fame -- his brother Glen was inducted in 2012. With 96 wins as a crew chief, he is known as the innovator of the modern pit stop. He is still active with the No.21 Wood Brothers Ford.
Wood Bros. reveals Blaney's Darlington throwback scheme
Driver of No. 21 will sport paint job with 2,000 photos of history RELATED: Buy tickets for Darlington Wood Brothers Racing is the latest to reveal a throwback paint scheme look for the upcoming Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway -- and boy, does it not disappoint. The South Carolina track is promoting a "throwback" theme for the famous Labor Day weekend Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sept. 6, 7 p.m. ET, NBC) and teams have slowly been revealing paint scheme designs leading up to the event. RELATED: Elliott's Darlington paint scheme revealed Not to be outdone by the several other teams that have already revealed their looks, the Wood Brothers took "throwback" to another level on its No. 21 Ford, including over 2,000 photos from the team's history, dating back 60 years. Excited to unveil this extremely special @Snapon_Tools paint scheme with over 2,000 historical Wood Brothers photos pic.twitter.com/n0rCNTMtdN — Wood Brothers Racing (@woodbrothers21) August 4, 2015 It's not everyday you wheel a race car up to the Gov. mansion. S.C. Gov Nikki Hayley @Blaney & boss man @Leonard_Wood pic.twitter.com/H09VPwWGt4 — Wood Brothers Racing (@woodbrothers21) August 4, 2015 There are thousands of memories on this car! Eddie Wood is sharing some memories with people after the unveiling. pic.twitter.com/MsEkMxIIv5 — Wood Brothers Racing (@woodbrothers21) August 4, 2015 Of course the "photo album" wouldn't be complete without a picture of one of #NASCAR 's finest, Buddy Baker. pic.twitter.com/oA9RpwiCtF — Wood Brothers Racing (@woodbrothers21) August 4, 2015 Blaney has never run a Sprint Cup car at Darlington. He finished 43rd in the XFINITY Series race at the venue in 2012 in his only national series start at the South Carolina track.
Ryan Blaney to drive Wood Brothers Cup car in '15
Technical alliance formed with Team Penske RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Ryan Blaney will fill in for Trevor Bayne in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford Friday and Saturday at Michigan International Speedway as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams begin preparations for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400. Next season, Blaney will replace Bayne on a more permanent basis. Blaney, 20, has been named driver for the legendary team beginning in 2015, and will compete in at least 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events. Bayne will move into a full-time role in Sprint Cup with Roush Fenway Racing next season. This weekend, he will be at Mid-Ohio to compete in the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200, creating the opening for Blaney to practice and qualify the Sprint Cup car for the Wood Brothers. The opportunity to drive the familiar red and white No. 21 Ford, which has carried some of the sport's most legendary figures to victory lane is "unbelievable," Blaney said. "It's really a dream come true so I couldn't be happier. "I'm ready to finish out this 2014 season very strong, try to go after this Truck championship and I'm really excited and looking forward to '15. I think it'll be a great year for us." Blaney currently competes in the Truck Series for Brad Keselowski Racing. He is the series' points leader after 11 of this season's 22 events with a series' best seven top-five finishes. He has two career wins. Eddie Wood said the search for Bayne's replacement began as soon as Bayne announced his plans to move up to Cup full-time with RFR. "Of course, that left us without a driver," Wood said. "As the summer went on the name that kept popping up was Ryan Blaney and it just kept coming up over and over and over again, so we went in that direction and fortunately we put that deal together. "We've had Trevor for the last four years and had that one great big win at Daytona (in 2011). That was almost a life-changing event for us as well as Trevor. I hope that we can repeat some of that success with Ryan. "He's the next big deal, I think, and we're real excited to have him. We've got a lot of pictures on our wall up in Virginia in the museum and we'd sure love to put him up there as a winner." Wood said for now the team's limited schedule likely would remain unchanged for next season, with the team competing in at least 12 Sprint Cup events. Motorcraft/Quick Lane will return as primary sponsor for 2015. Additional funding could mean an expanded schedule. "We're always chasing other dollars to run more races and we're certainly going to be in a position to do that," Wood said. In addition to the driver move, officials also announced the formation of a technical alliance with Team Penske , which fields Ford teams in the Sprint Cup Series for drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano . Since 2012, Blaney has made several starts for Team Penske in the Nationwide Series , and made his Sprint Cup debut earlier this year with the organization, finishing 27th at Kansas. He is scheduled to make one more Sprint Cup start with the team this year, at Talladega. The alliance "is something that's foreign to us to be honest," said Team Penske president Tim Cindric, "because it's not something we've done in the past. "We've been approached in different ways and … some of that has to do with how well you run and how well you don't run. When you're running up front, everybody wants to work with you and when you're not, then you don't get as many calls. But our answer has usually been the same. Our answer has usually been, ‘We've got enough to focus on at our place.'" Working closely with the Wood Brothers made sense "for many reasons," he said. "We're certainly focused on not only ensuring that Ryan has the tools to be successful and continues his career, but ensuring that the Wood Brothers have everything that we have." In addition to his Sprint Cup duties, Blaney will likely continue to share seat time in the No. 22 Ford fielded by Team Penske in the Nationwide Series next season. "I'd like to do as much racing as possible next year and that stuff will come later on down the road," Blaney said. "We're just excited to announce the stuff today. … I'd like to race as much as possible but we're focused on finishing out this year strong and I'm really excited about the Wood Brothers deal next year and I'm sure we'll figure all that stuff out later." Wood Brothers Racing is one of the longest tenured groups competing in NASCAR's premier series. Founded by Glen Wood when NASCAR was just beginning to take root in the early 1950s, the team has won 98 races and has always been affiliated with Ford Motor Company. Glen and younger brother Leonard Wood , who served as crew chief, are members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Glen's children, Eddie, Len and Kim, run the organization today. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Stewart tops Michigan Sprint Cup practice
RELATED: Full practice results " Top 10 consecutive lap averages Tony Stewart topped the speed chart in Saturday's morning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session at Michigan International Speedway ahead of Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Stewart circled the 2-mile track in his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet with a fast time of 202.122 mph to pace the 55-minute practice session. "Smoke" has one win in the Irish Hills in 33 starts there. Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, 201.427 mph) and Chase Elliott (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 201.196 mph) came in second and third, respectively. Both drivers are in search of their first win in the sport's top series. Kurt Busch (No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, 201.089 mph) and Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet, 200.932 mph) completed the top five. Alex Bowman , who will pilot the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for the sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr . this weekend, placed eighth in practice. All told, 12 drivers crossed the 200 mph mark on their laps Saturday morning. Polesitter Joey Logano placed 16th in the session. Final Sprint Cup practice is set for 11:30 a.m. ET with coverage on CNBC and the NBC Sports App. </p>
Wood Comments on his Hall Of Fame Experience
Alan Cavanna talks with Leonard Wood about his experience being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame
Night of Living History: Wood Brothers
Glen and Leonard Wood join NASCAR HOF historian Buz McKim to discuss their legendary careers in racing.
Wood Brothers unveil Ryan Blaney's Virginia Tech paint scheme for Bristol
Ryan Blaney will race a Virginia Tech paint scheme for the upcoming race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Wood Brothers unveiled the car in Blacksburg, Virginia in front of the Virginia Tech football players and coaches. Video courtesy of Hokie Vision.