The Wood Brothers Racing story began 70 years ago when family patriarch Glen Wood decided to try racing. It almost ended the same night it began.
Here is Glen’s memory of that first race and what followed:
“In 1950, at Morris Speedway, near Martinsville, VA, I was running along pretty good about the middle of the heat race, when they had a wreck in front of me. I was trying to go through a little narrow opening and hooked my left rear wheel on the bumper of one of the other cars. It bent the rear end housing, forcing us to quit. We were towing it behind another car, and got up the road about 10 miles. The wheel was wobbling from being bent and finally broke the axle. That, in turn, let the brake drum down on the pavement. As the wheel came out, it jerked the gas neck out of the tank and the gas spilled down and caught fire. Then, it caught the car afire, and it burned right there in the middle of the road. Finally, we got the car unhooked from it, but we didn’t have fire extinguishers. We had some extra gas cans and extra tires and tools that we were carrying in the racecar. And once in a while, a gas can would blow up in there. We were scared to get close to it because of that. So we let it burn until it burned up about everything. That was the first race I’d ever got to start. So we figured it all might be over.”
But, it wasn’t over. Glen and his friends got that car fixed and three weeks later he finished third in the main event at Dan River Speedway.
The elder Wood went on to race on the beach in Daytona, win four races on the fledgling NASCAR circuit and become one of NASCAR’S 50 Greatest Drivers. Wood gave up his driving duties following the 1964 season. The team had already employed a number of other drivers during the previous eight years, and in 1965 Glen became a full-time owner.
In fact, 20 of NASCAR’S Greatest Drivers have driven for Wood Brothers Racing. That list includes Curtis Turner, Tiny Lund, Fireball Roberts, Bob Welborn, Dale Jarrett, A.J. Foyt, Glen Wood, Buddy Baker, Marvin Panch, Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Ned Jarrett, Fred Lorenzen, David Pearson, Joe Weatherly, Ralph Earnhardt, Neil Bonnett, Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin, and Bill Elliott.
Wood Brothers Racing scored their 98th victory, winning the 2011 Daytona 500 with rookie sensation, Trevor Bayne & their 99th victory at Pocono in 2017 with driver Ryan Blaney. Wood Brothers have now won in seven decades.