Glen Wood will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the third induction class Friday night in Charlotte. Carrying the torch for the fabled racing family today are brothers Len and Eddie Wood, who talked about their father’s upcoming enshrinement, what it has meant to their dad and the family, as well as some of the fun things that have come as a result of the honor.
WHAT WERE THE EMOTIONS LIKE FOR YOU WHEN YOU FOUND OUT YOUR DAD WAS GOING INTO THE HALL OF FAME?
Eddie Wood: “We had been to every Hall of Fame announcement since they started them and we will continue to go to them because they are really cool to go to, but that particular one when Brian France announced him was unbelievable. You just really couldn’t believe that it actually happened. I think he was the last one that was announced and I was sitting beside our dad when they did it, so that made it special. Just to watch his emotions was great. He just kept sitting there and I kind of punched him and told him that I thought he would have to stand up. He just kept sitting there and finally just said, ‘Wow’. He finally stood up and he was fine.”
Len Wood: “It is hard to describe really. There was a sense of relief when they called Daddy’s name. It was down to the fifth spot and it was just a relief that he finally made it. This way he can be around to see it and to enjoy it. He has been a little uptight about it. Public speaking is not his thing. Chopping a tree down or mowing the yard is his thing. We were extremely proud of him and it has brought out a bunch of the old history stuff at the shop. He will come in with a jacket from 30 years ago or we found a band saw from the 1960’s. We are trying to make our own little Hall of Fame at the shop in Virginia.”
PEOPLE ALWAYS TALK ABOUT HOW HUMBLE YOUR DAD IS.
Eddie Wood: “Yeah, he is very humble. I don’t think it sunk in for him what it really meant. Now that it has gotten closer and closer and is almost here and he has contacted people and invited them to come and people have called him talking about it, I think he is really realizing the magnitude that it really is. I think he is enjoying it now. He is dreading giving his speech though. He doesn’t like to get up and talk but he wrote his own speech and he wrote it on a sheet of paper and turned the piece of paper over to write the rest on the back so that he could save paper. He hand wrote it on that paper and I think he is really honored.”
Len Wood: “I think his humbleness comes from how he was born, I guess what you would say is poor but he never said it was like that. When I say that, he talked about riding his bicycle to the store and had worked all day in the field to make a nickel to go buy a Coca-Cola or a Milky Way or a Mounds or something like that. He worked all day for that. Nothing was handed to him. He worked in a saw mill and what it appears is that it’s about the hardest work you can do, moving those logs around. He wound up one day stepping in for the main guy and did the sawing which was the brains part of it. You didn’t want to mess up and waste anything. He never wants to waste anything. He would go through the trash can at the old shop and pick out tie-wraps and if they were cut just right and still two or three inches long he would pull it aside and say we needed to use them. It was that mentality. He never was a flashy kind of guy or anything like that. He did his deal and went about his business.”
ONE OF THE COOL PARTS OF THIS INDUCTION IS IT GOT YOU GUYS TO ORGANIZE A LOT OF THE FAMILY HISTORY RIGHT?
Eddie Wood: “Yeah, it really did. When you get in the Hall of Fame they put together an exhibit in the Hall and that usually is a car or things you have saved and stuff like that. We didn’t save a lot of race cars over the years. The next car would be the car you already have with a new body, they just didn’t keep them. There was no need to or at least they didn’t think there was. There were a lot of photos and small things like his last helmet, which is already in the Hall of Fame museum down there, and things like that. We got to looking around our shop up in Virginia at the stuff that was still there, then we went over to Dad’s garage behind his house and the stuff that was in there was like from the beginning. So now we have started to open up our museum and made it bigger in the back of our race shop and we got to looking at those photos and decided we needed to get them scanned and put in a database in case if something ever happened to them. I think right now we are at about 3,000 images we have had scanned. When you do that, the resolution pops up, and I don’t know a lot about photography, but I know that when you enlarge something you have to have good resolution. So now we have these pictures that are 60 by 40 all over the back part of the shop and we are just kind of getting started. We have about 60 or 70 of them hung up now and most of them are photos of every old car that he drove from the first one to the last race he ran. We have a picture of that and of the old beach stuff and he is all in the middle of that. We will go pick up a load of photos and bring them back and he can’t wait to get them home. He can walk through the shop and point at a picture and there is a story with it. Every picture has a story. He and our mom can tell the stories. They were there, they lived it and they remember them really well. It has been fun.”
WHAT HAS BEEN THE COOLEST THING YOU HAVE COME ACROSS?
Eddie Wood: “There are so many cool things. The photos are right up there. You look at a photo and get a great story. It may be a picture of someone presenting Dad with a trophy or checkered flag or something and then you look in the background and see who is there with them. That is the cool part, the stuff you would never have noticed. There are a lot of photos of Bill France Sr. and Bill France Jr. and Curtis Turner. There are photos of everybody that you have ever heard of somewhere in our collection. That has really been cool because a lot of the people in the photos we didn’t even know who they were. We knew a lot of them but then there are people and you ask who they are and Dad will just tell you who it was and what he did and he remembers that stuff back to like 1940, the memory is really, really good.”
Len Wood: “It is hard to say really. We have a bunch of the shirts from the 60’s. It started off with the Hall of Fame tribute race this past season in Charlotte when we picked a shirt that they wore at Indianapolis in 1965, one of those half red, half white shirts. It started from there and we found a red one and a burgundy one and then a white one and white with burgundy. We ended up finding 10 varieties of shirts from the 60’s. We made a display from then until now, which is like 70 shirts or uniforms we have had. We made it like a flag display, like a checkered flag holder. We have one from every single decade from the 60’s to now. It goes all the way back to a Pure Firebird one in 1963 or something like that. Stuff like that is pretty amazing that he has hung on to stuff like that. Left up to Eddie and I, we probably would have thrown most of our stuff away.”
IS THERE ANYTHING IN THE STORIES THAT HAVE BEEN TOLD AS YOU DIG UP ALL THIS OLD STUFF THAT YOU HAVE FOUND OUT ABOUT YOUR DAD, MAYBE FROM HIS YOUNGER DAYS?
Eddie Wood: “I am finding out that when I was growing up we were always told to not drive fast on the street, and don’t do this or don’t do that. As we have gone along people have told stories about what Dad and his buddies used to do and how they would race around. They raced lumber trucks if you can imagine that on a narrow dirt road. They talk about being side by side rounding a corner and a horse is standing in the middle of the road and one of them goes on one side and one on another and neither of them hits the horse. I know where that happened and they showed me and I don’t know how it was possible. If you did it today and you were in two cars side by side, much less trucks, and a horse in the middle? Somebody is going to hit that horse, but they didn’t. A lot of things that I used to get in trouble for or get warned about, I understand why now.”
Len Wood: “We heard the other day something about a straightaway between Stuart and Buffalo Ridge, Virginia, where they would race. They were talking about when it came time to go to Daytona in late January or early February to run on the sand that they would try them out. There was one guy that was telling the story that they would hear him coming and run out to the road to watch him go by and they were already gone by the time people got out there. That was stuff that we were told not to do. You can’t run fast on the roads, but here he was doing it. We knew they went to Indianapolis and pitted Jimmy Clark in 1965 but three years ago we got to talking and he said they pitted Bobby Johns too. So we asked how they did that and it turned out he was in the pit next to them so they would pit Clark on like lap 67 and here comes Bobby on lap 68. Lap 134 would be Clark and 135 Bobby Johns. I think Bobby finished sixth or seventh that day. That was stuff we didn’t know.”
WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND THE BEECH TREE?
Eddie Wood: “The beech tree is about 175 years old, maybe older than that. It is at the old home place and there is a fresh water spring that runs under it. When they first started racing their first race car in 1950, it was a 1938 Ford. When it came time to pull the engine out to go through the engine and make a race car out of a street car, they hoisted a chain over the lower limb and that is how they pulled the engine out. Well, that tree, and it is a huge tree, last summer we were having our annual picnic under the tree where everybody gets together about every June or July. We were over there talking and I asked Delano which one of the limbs it was. I had heard the story all my life but I asked him which one of the limbs they threw the chain over. He said, ‘Well, I will show you,’ and we walked over there and he pointed up and said, ‘Right there it is.’ Which it was the most obvious one. Now it is not the lowest limb but it was then. There is a shoot off of it now, but it was right there and he made a statement and said that somebody should do a story and start right there. I said he was right and that is kind of what has happened. The bio video that is airing on SPEED now starts at that tree. That is how it started.”
DOES THIS HALL OF FAME INDUCTION BRING THINGS FULL CIRCLE FOR YOUR FAMILY?
Eddie Wood: “Oh I don’t know. I guess it kind of ties it all together. Everything in our world today moves so fast. It seems like this kind of just slowed everything down and put it in like a time out. We all regrouped and have been able to catch up on some things that should have been caught up with the last 50 years that weren’t. It has given us a chance to gather a lot of information and contact a lot of people that we hadn’t seen or talked to. The whole Hall of Fame, I think for everybody that has been inducted, all the families, has fixed a lot of things that needed fixing. A lot of things that have happened within teams and within families over the years, the Hall of Fame has a way of bringing things together. I saw that last year and the year before and I have seen it this year. It is a good thing.”
Len Wood: “There is still Leonard to go yet. At some point he will go in the Hall of Fame, I don’t know if it will be next year or the year after or the year after, but that will kind of finish it then. When he gets in it will come full circle. There will be a sense of relief when Daddy gets done with his speech and he is walking away and gets back to his seat. That is when he will truly be able to enjoy it. But we still have Leonard to go to get in and they both deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Others have done a lot of things too, but they have been there pretty much from the beginning and had a huge part of this sport, and, for that matter, for Ford Motor Company, all those 98 races we’ve won they were either in a Ford or a Mercury. It is pretty special.”