NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood, who founded Wood Brothers Racing in 1953, has died. He was 93.
Wood Brothers Racing made the announcement of Wood’s passing Friday on social media.
It’s with profound sadness that we mourn the passing of team founder and family patriarch Glen Wood this morning. We want to thank family, friends, our small-town Virginia community of Patrick County, as well as everyone in the NASCAR community for their unwavering support. pic.twitter.com/vadN1NKgTV
— Wood Brothers Racing (@woodbrothers21) January 18, 2019
While Wood won four times as a driver, the team — which is now run by sons Eddie and Len and daughter Kim — has won 99 times, most recently with Ryan Blaney behind the wheel in 2017. NASCAR’s longest-active team, Wood Brothers racing has won at least one race in seven consecutive decades.
Known as “Woodchopper” early in his career because he owned a sawmill, Wood’s four wins behind the wheel came at Bowman-Gray Stadium in North Carolina, a short drive from the team’s home in Stuart, Virginia. Wood, though, is in the Hall for what his team accomplished when he turned the driving over to others.
David Pearson won 43 times with the Wood Brothers between 1972 and ’78, including 11 wins in just 18 races in ’73 and 10 wins in 22 starts three seasons later. Pearson’s biggest win with the team was the ’76 Daytona 500, when Pearson limped across the finish line after colliding with Richard Petty on the last lap.
The Wood Brothers also won the Daytona 500 in 1963 (with driver Tiny Lund), in ’68 (Cale Yarborough), in ’72 (A.J. Foyt) and 2011 (Trevor Bayne). All were behind the wheel of Fords, the manufacturer that became synonyms with the team over the decades.
Legend. Innovator. Loyal friend. We join the family and the sport in mourning the passing of @woodbrothers21 founder Glen Wood this morning. The Woods are the longest running Ford team in our history. More important, Glen was a true gentleman and a important part of our family. pic.twitter.com/10IlTFdNGN
— Ford Performance (@FordPerformance) January 18, 2019
“In every way, Glen Wood was an original,” NASCAR chairman Jim France said. “In building the famed Wood Brothers Racing at the very beginnings of our sport, Glen laid a foundation for NASCAR excellence that remains to this day.
“As both a driver and a team owner, he was, and always will be, the gold standard. But personally, even more significant than his exemplary on-track record, he was a true gentleman and a close confidant to my father [NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.], mother and brother.”
Wood was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2012, followed by brother Leonard — the team’s longtime crew chief — a year later. Three other brothers — Delano, Clay and Ray Lee — also had roles with the team through the years.
“It’s such a long trip from 1950 to now. It’s sort of hard to believe,” Glen Wood said when he was announced as a Hall inductee. “It’s one of the biggest honors you could have. I didn’t come here alone; I had a lot of help. There’s five of us brothers. All of those helped at one time or another.”
The 2018 Daytona 500 marked an end of an era as it was the first time Glen Wood missed Speedweeks since 1946. The 71-year streak of attending Speedweeks began in ’47 when Wood traveled to Florida with his future father-in-law and future brother-in-law.
Glen Wood eventually raced on the beach/road course at Daytona, winning the final three Sportsman division races from the pole, and at Daytona International Speedway.
“It’s hard to believe that for 71 years I haven’t been sick or injured or something,” he said. “It’s quite a feat to do that for so long.”
In addition to Pearson, Lund, Yarborough, Foyt, Bayne and Blaney, the team’s other winning drivers have been, Speedy Thompson, Marvin Panch, Dan Gurney, Curtis Turner, Donnie Allison, Neil Bonnett, Buddy Baker, Kyle Petty, Dale Jarrett, Morgan Shepherd and Elliott Sadler.
“From our earliest years in the sport, Wood Brothers Racing set the gold standard of NASCAR teams, and that was a result of the vision and dedication of Glen and Leonard,” said Team Penske owner Roger Penske. “Glen established himself in the sport first as a driver then as an innovator and a team owner.
“Glen helped me and our team when we first became involved in NASCAR, he has been a trusted friend throughout the years. … Glen’s work ethic and his focus set the example for all of us to follow and he will certainly be missed by so many in our sport.”
Under the direction of Leonard Wood, the team is credited with revolutionizing pit stops from a once-leisurely endeavor into a quickly executed event that led to races being won in the pits and not just on the track.
They so revolutionized racing that the pit crew — which included brothers Glen, Leonard, Delano and Ray Lee — was hired by Ford to pit Jim Clark’s Lotus for the 1965 Indianapolis 500, a race Clark won.
“Glen Wood was a good friend and one of my favorite people in NASCAR along with his brother Leonard,” Foyt said in a statement. “I never had as much fun down there as I did driving for the Wood Brothers. … Their team was the kingpin of stock car racing and I felt honored to be driving for them.”