BLACKSBURG – The Virginia Tech Athletics Department and Wood Brothers Racing announced Monday that the NASCAR Sprint Cup race team will display a Virginia Tech paint scheme on its cars for upcoming races at Bristol Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway.
The paint scheme is being used to promote both the school’s academic programs and the athletics department as part of the department’s “This is Home” marketing campaign. The Virginia Tech football team will play Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 10 – a game that may break college football’s all-time single-game attendance mark – and the car will be displayed at that game.
The car will feature a primary color of maroon, with orange and white accent stripes. Ryan Blaney, who drives the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will wear a fire suit and a helmet with Virginia Tech colors and the team will be wearing Virginia Tech shirts.
The car was unveiled to the Tech football team following the team’s practice Monday morning. Most of the Wood family was in attendance.
“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 [Bud] 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-themed car will be run at the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race held at Bristol Motor Speedway this Saturday and at the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 held at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 30.
Clark Ruhland, a graduate of Virginia Tech who now works as a communications specialist for the City of Salem, Virginia, created the design scheme for the car, fire suit, helmet and crew uniforms. In addition to having ties to Virginia Tech, Ruhland also works on the broadcast production staff for NASCAR on NBC.
Virginia Tech and Wood Brothers Racing, started by NASCAR Hall of Fame members Glen (Class of 2012) and Leonard Wood (Class of 2013) and continued by Glen’s children Eddie, Len, and Kim, have a long history going back to 1950. In 2000, Elliott Sadler drove a Wood Brothers car with a Virginia Tech paint scheme during a NASCAR race in Richmond.
Though now racing out of Harrisburg, North Carolina, the Wood Brothers Racing Team is still a Virginia company that originally began in Stuart, Virginia – roughly an hour from Virginia Tech’s campus. Several members of the Wood family have graduated from Virginia Tech and one currently is enrolled at the university.
“We’ve got a long of family ties with this and we felt like the deal with our race at Bristol and then the Battle at Bristol coming up that it was kind of important to do this,” Len Wood said. “We teamed up and here we are.
“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. 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.”
The arrangement also continues Virginia Tech’s ties with NASCAR. Several Tech graduates work in the racing industry, including former football player Caleb Hurd, who works on the pit crew for driver Denny Hamlin; David Wilson, who works as the president for Toyota Racing Development; Darian Grubb, a vehicle production director for Hendrick Motorsports; Kevin Kidd and Michael Tam, whom both work for Roush Fenway Racing, and many others.