It’s a long way from preparing a Modified Ford under a shade tree at the family homestead in Buffalo Ridge, VA. From fielding a dirt car in the early 1950’s to starting two teams in an online racing series in 2019, the Wood Brothers have now done both.
Wood Brothers Racing, NASCAR’s oldest continuously operating race team, has joined several other NASCAR Cup Series car owners in competing in the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series, which is the iRacing equivalent of the elite Cup series.
The Wood Brothers will have two teams, with iRacing standout Ray Alfalla, a four-time series champion, piloting the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion and Chris Overland at the wheel of the No. 16 Quick Lane Ford Fusion.
The online simulation racing series features 40 of the world’s best sim racers running events in Monster Energy Cup Series cars on the same tracks in which the Cup series competes.
Jon Wood, Director of Business Development and co-owner of his family’s race team, and a participant in iRacing himself, applauds NASCAR’s decision to increase its presence in the online aspect of the sport.
“I’m very excited to see where this league goes and what it adds for our real-life race team,” Wood said. “I’ve made some incredible friends because of iRacing, something you don’t typically associate with the typical talking points when asked about their simulation.”
Wood said his interaction with fellow sim racers in another league he races in, called CORT and is short for Championsip Online Racing Teams, has shown him the value in being a part of the new PEAK league.
“I would definitely point to my boys in CORT as being the primary contributing factor for me to even be familiar with iRacing to begin with,” he said. “Since joining and racing with those guys, I have come to realize and appreciate the value iRacing brings to real-life applications of motorsports.” Now that Wood Brothers has an actual involvement in their premier series as a team owner, I truly believe it will benefit our team in tangible ways.”
NASCAR and its broadcast partners plan to step up their promotion of iRacing, and NASCAR will provide a series director.
Sim racers, like their counterparts in conventional racing, start in the lower divisions, with only the elite talent advancing to the pro level. Those who advance, like in any racing series, tend to be the ones who have both exceptional talent and top-of-the-line equipment.
Wood said the sim equipment used in iRacing is state-of-the-art.
“Some of these rigs I’ve seen are comparable to the simulators that pilots use in training for flying real airplanes,” he said.
The 2019 PEAK Series features 18 races from February through October, and the events will be produced and streamed live on several sites including NASCAR.com.
Like the conventional NASCAR racers, sim drivers will earn purse money, and this year’s champion will earn $40,000.
Wood said he’s confident that Alfalla and Overland will help his team continue its legacy of success in the sport.
“Being fortunate enough to have Ray driving one of our cars is about the best thing you could ask for,” he said. “Between Ray’s past success, and the potential and enthusiasm Chris brings for our second team, I think we’ve got about as good of a package as you could possibly ask for. A lot of people may not know, but the number 16 we’re using on the 2nd car is my grandpa’s original number, so with his passing this is all the more special to have Chris driving that car and number.”
The excitement for the new pairing isn’t lost on the two drivers either. Ray Alfalla, arguably iRacing’s single best driver, can’t wait to get the ball rolling. “I’m honored to be the first draft pick, and to drive for the most iconic team in NASCAR.” The same goes for the team’s other driver, Chris Overland. When asked what it means to be driving the car branded after the team’s founder and original driver, Chris couldn’t be more thrilled and prouder at the same time. “What Glenn Wood has done for NASCAR is something almost too big to put into words. Being picked as one of the top twenty-four drivers throughout all of iRacing is one thing, but being picked by this team and the history this number represents, it really is something I can’t even describe.”
The first race of the season kicks off February 12th at the Daytona International Speedway. For more info on the series or iRacing, visit https://www.iracing.com/nascar-peak-antifreeze-series/