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NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood dies at 93

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Wood Brothers Racing patriarch Glen Wood, who was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2012, died Friday. He was 93.

The team announced his passing Friday morning on social media.

Wood was a link to NASCAR’s early years.

A former driver – he won four times at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. – Glen Wood founded the Wood Brothers Racing team with brothers Leonard and Delano. In Wood’s first win at Bowman Gray Stadium in April 1960, he beat a field that included former champions Richard Petty, Rex White, Ned Jarrett and Lee Petty. Wood’s history also includes seeing Tim Flock race with a monkey and having Ralph Earnhardt drive convertible and sportsman cars for the team.

His racing career nearly ended as soon as it started. Wood and a friend paid $50 for a 1938 Ford coupe to go racing. The Stuart, Virginia, native ran his first race at a track near Martinsville. During the heat race, his car was hit and bent the rear-end housing. After the race, Wood and his friend hooked the race car to the vehicle they were driving and headed home.

But on the trip, the axle eventually broke, and the damage caused spilling fuel to ignite. The fire engulfed the back of the race car.

“Every once in a while one of them (gas cans) would blow up, and we would be afraid to get close to it because of that,” Wood recalled in a 2011 interview. “Finally we got it unhooked and got the car away from (the one pulling it) and let it burn because we couldn’t do anything about it.”

They salvaged the engine and repaired the car. A few weeks later, Wood was back racing.

While Leonard is often credited as the father of the modern pit stop, Glen was equally as responsible. The two developed a communication and strategy plan that was one of the best in NASCAR for several decades.

Wood Brothers Racing, which has 99 Cup victories, remains the oldest continuous racing team in NASCAR. Among the drivers that have raced for the team are Hall of Famers David Pearson, Curtis Turner, Junior Johnson, Joe Weatherly, Fred Lorenzen, Cale Yarborough, Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott.

Born on July 18, 1925, Glen retired as a driver at the age of 39, assuming full-time duties as the team’s chief administrator, a role that he handled for nearly 30 years before relegating the role to sons Eddie and Len.

Through the years, Wood’s name mysteriously changed. His birth certificate lists his first name as Glenn, but somewhere along the way the last letter was dropped.

Wood received the colorful nickname of “Wood Chopper” early on for how he used to cut timber at a Virginia sawmill. But when Glen started racing, that nickname followed him and became somewhat of a calling card for his winning ways.

“When he pulled into a racetrack, and the announcer would say, ‘Here comes the Wood Chopper from Stuart, Virginia,’ you knew you had a challenger that night,” Ned Jarrett, a fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer, said of Glen Wood in a 2012 NASCAR Hall video of Glen Wood’s career. “Glen Wood, he was the master.”

Kyle Petty, who drove for the Wood Brothers during his career, was a Hall of Fame voter when the group discussed who to induct in the 2012 class. Behind the closed doors, Petty made an impassioned speech for the voters to select Wood for induction.

“I think people forget the breadth of somebody’s career sometimes when it spans as long as his,” Kyle Petty said that day in 2011.

In a statement, Edsel B. Ford II, member of the Board of Directors for Ford Motor Company, said of Wood’s passing:

“This is a difficult day for all of us at Ford Motor Company. Glen Wood was the founding patriarch of the oldest continuously operating NASCAR Cup Series team and we consider Wood Brothers Racing a part of our family, the Ford Family. The Wood Brothers race team, by any measure, has been one of the most successful racing operations in the history of NASCAR. Most importantly for our company, Glen and his family have remained loyal to Ford throughout their 69-year history.

“Glen was an innovator who, along with his family, changed the sport itself.  But, more importantly, he was a true Southern gentleman who was quick with a smile and a handshake and he was a man of his word.   I will cherish the memories of our chats in the NASCAR garage, at their race shop in Mooresville or the racing museum in Stuart.  My most memorable moment with Glen was with he and his family in the #21 pit box watching Trevor Bayne win the 2011 Daytona 500 and the celebration that followed in victory lane.”

In a statement, NASCAR’s Jim France said: “In every way, Glen Wood was an original. 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, mother and brother. On behalf of the France family and all of NASCAR, I send my condolences to the entire Wood family for the loss of a NASCAR giant.”

In a statement, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said: “Everyone at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is saddened by the passing of Glen Wood. The word ‘legendary’ sometimes is overused, but it absolutely fits Glen and the team that he and his brother, Leonard, founded and built into a powerhouse in NASCAR. Wood Brothers Racing has such a deep, rich connection to IMS through its multiple entries in the Brickyard 400 and by serving as the pit crew for the Lotus/Ford that Jim Clark drove to victory in the 1965 Indianapolis 500. Glen’s legacy as a fine driver and motorsports innovator will be matched only by his enduring status as one of racing’s true gentlemen and class acts.”

Jerry Bonkowski contributed to this report

NASCAR America: Best family moments of 2018

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NASCAR is defined by family. Drivers’ children, spouses and parents fill the garage and victory lane celebrations.

As Thanksgiving approaches, NASCAR America looked back on some of the greatest family moments of the season.

“The drivers have done a tremendous job in bringing their families in – their kids in – and it just shows that we’re not just saying this is a family sport,” Dale Jarrett, son of legendary Ned Jarrett, said. “It has been for a long time. Kyle Petty and myself and many others. This is what we grew up around. … I think it’s showing these young people this is a sport that you can count on. You can count on the people and there are a lot of good people involved with that.”

Highlights include:

  • Clint Bowyer jogging down the front stretch to scoop his son Cash into his arms at Martinsville.
  • Kevin Harvick‘s son Keelan retrieving the checkered flag at Michigan followed by a trip to victory lane in the passenger side of his father’s car.
  • Bubba Wallace’s mother Desiree Wallace joining him in the media center at Daytona.
  • Chase Elliott and his Hall of Fame father Bill Elliott in Watkins Glen’s victory lane.
  • Hudson Logano being placed in the Monster Energy Cup trophy by Joey Logano.

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

Long: Enjoy a trip back in time tonight, but the future beckons

Photo: Dustin Long
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DARLINGTON, S.C. — For a few hours Sunday night, NASCAR transforms itself into the image many fans have from when they started following the sport.

For longtime fans, Clint Bowyer’s No. 14 reminds them of the car Ned Jarrett drove to his dominating 1965 Southern 500 win.  For others with less gray hair, William Byron’s No. 24 brings back memories of Jeff Gordon in a rainbow-colored car, and Austin Dillon’s ride recalls the time Dale Earnhardt shocked fans by driving a silver No. 3 in the 1995 All-Star Race. For new fans, there’s Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78, which harkens back to March when he won at Auto Club Speedway, as crew chief Cole Pearn explained in a tongue-in-cheek tweet.

On a weekend that celebrates NASCAR’s past, it is the future that carries the discussion in and around the garage.

Many are guessing what is in the future for Truex, the reigning series champion, and Furniture Row Racing after 5-hour Energy announced in July it would not remain in NASCAR beyond this season. Some are convinced the team won’t race next year, others are convinced the team will be competing. Some just don’t know.

Truex said little about his future after qualifying third for tonight’s Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

“I’ve got no news,” Truex said.

What happens with the team and Truex likely will create a domino effect.

While many in the garage wait to see what happens, Kurt Busch says he’s got two offers for next season.

Those could be just the tip of a bevy of driver movements, with most of those happening with mid-tier teams or lower.

But those aren’t the only questions.

Jim France is again at the track this weekend. He’s the interim CEO and Chairman of NASCAR, but questions remain as to what NASCAR will do with its leadership and will it include Brian France.

NASCAR announced Aug. 6 that Brian France was taking a leave of absence after he was arrested by the Sag Harbor Village (New York) police and cited for aggravated driving while intoxicating and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. 

There also are questions about what next year will be like on the track. Rule discussions continue. NASCAR gave teams an outline of 2019 rules a month ago to ponder. There still seems to be an interest toward a package similar to what was run with at the All-Star Race but giving drivers greater throttle control.

Deals also are taking place in the garage as teams look to next year. Plans are being arranged for charters to switch teams after this season. Will anybody be left out in the movement or will somebody new move up to Cup and take a charter?

What will Toyota’s team lineup be next year? Yes, it will have Joe Gibbs Racing’s four Cup teams but who else? Will Leavine Family Racing join the fold as many expect? And, of course, there’s the status of Furniture Row Racing. A lot leads back to what car owner Barney Visser decides.

So enjoy tonight, the trip back to memory lane with the special paint schemes, crew uniforms and other stylish touches. The future – and answers to many of these questions – will be here soon enough.

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Cole Pearn explains throwback scheme for Martin Truex Jr.’s car

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While seven decades of NASCAR are being celebrated this weekend at Darlington Raceway and most teams have some sort of throwback scheme on their cars, one of the few cars that stands out without an obvious throwback look is the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing car of Martin Truex Jr.

Unlike previous throwback weekends at Darlington, there is no specific time period being highlighted. The throwback schemes vary from Clint Bowyer‘s car honoring Ned Jarrett’s 1965 win at the track to Jimmie Johnson‘s paint scheme that mirrors the 2012 car he drove to victory at this track for Hendrick Motorsports’ 200th Cup win.

Crew chief Cole Pearn had some fun on social media by explaining his team’s throwback look this weekend.

 

Clint Bowyer to honor Ned Jarrett with Darlington throwback scheme

Stewart-Haas Racing
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Clint Bowyer will honor Hall of Fame driver Ned Jarrett with his paint scheme for the Sept. 2 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Fifty-three years ago Jarrett won the 1965 Southern 500 by 14 laps – and it is fitting that victory will be honored by the No. 14 car.

“Stewart-Haas Racing and the Carolina Ford Dealers got together and decided to honor someone who’s had such a huge influence in the sport, and we immediately thought of Ned Jarrett,” Bowyer said in a press release.

Bowyer will not have the same dominant performance as Jarrett did when he won his 49th and next-to-last Cup race. But just like in 1965, Bowyer knows that winning the Southern 500 is about conserving equipment.

“We ran well during the race and led some laps and then things began to turn our way in the last 100 miles or so,” Jarrett recalled of that hot summer day.

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Battling an overheating problem, the crew tried to call Jarrett into the pits.

“I knew we didn’t need to pit, but they knew the car was overheating, so I kept going because something told me stronger than the officials of Ford and my own pit crew that I needed to stay out there and keep going.”

Jarrett was correct and he went into the record books that afternoon with the biggest margin of victory in the history of NASCAR.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.