It’s race day at the Monster Mile! The Wood Brothers are not racing today but their history at Dover tracks back to the 1970′s, way before the nickname the “Monster Mile” was ever created. Leonard, Glen and the Wood Brothers team visited victory lane at Dover 8 times, 5 times with David Pearson and 2 times with Neil Bonnett. With Leonard Wood’s smarts and Neil Bonnett and David Pearsons’ top gun driving skills, the team dominated at Dover between the years of 1972 & 1981, taking the checkered flag 3 times in a row in 1972 and 1973.
Leonard Wood’s memories at Dover are countless. In the video below, he shared a couple with me.
This week’s “Family Member Spotlight” is going to be on Leonard Wood. We all know Leonard Wood, the creator of the modern pit stop and the mastermind behind the success of the number 21, but lets take a closer look into his life.
Family – Leonard has one daughter, Beth Witt, and two grandchildren, Carlin and Gracen Witt. “Beth is the greatest daughter anyone could have and supports me more than 100%”, stated Leonard. His late wife, Betty Mae, passed away in 1997 from a fatal car accident that occurred on the family’s way home from the Charlotte All-Star race. “Betty Mae was always 100% behind me and is missed dearly”, said Leonard. Carlin is 22 years old and has a very busy year ahead of her. She plans to graduate from Virginia Tech in December and is getting married in 2015. Gracen is 18 years old and is a freshman at Virginia Tech. Beth and her husband, Kelly, also graduated from Virginia Tech. GO HOKIES! “When family is behind you, you make life work”.
Leonard has a dear friend, Lori Banks, that travels with him and keeps his life organized. “Lori is a great friend to me, we help each other out with things and she keeps me updated with what is going on with the computer. We have been great friends for about 7 years and she knows more about my racing career and life than I do”, stated Leonard.
Favorite Race Track – When asked this question, Leonard just couldn’t give me one answer, he gave me several. Coincidentally, all the tracks were where the Wood Brothers had their greatest success.
1. Charlotte and Atlanta – “We had the most poles at Charlotte but we won the most races at Atlanta”
2. Daytona – “Daytona is the most prestigious race to win”
3. Michigan – “We won a lot of races at Michigan, when you get the right setup it is fun to race there”
4. Darlington – “We have a lot of history at Darlington, won a lot of races with several different drivers. Everyone wanted to win the Southern 500″
80th Birthday Celebration – Leonard had two birthday celebrations, one was a celebration at Primland Resort and the other one was held at the race shop in Stuart for friends and family. One of the highlights of his birthday celebration at Primland was meeting Harold Primat, Swiss racing driver, and Tom Kristensen, 9 time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Both of which signed a 21 race car door, given to him by Eddie and Len, that everyone at both parties signed.
Birthday celebrations always last for more than a day, well at least mine do, so I am going to keep the tradition going. Since we celebrated Leonard’s birthday yesterday, the next couple posts will be about him. Leonard always tells the best stories about his racing experiences and personal life, so I thought it would be fun to turn the tables and tell a favorite story about Leonard. In the video, Eddie tells a story about how Leonard Wood busted him.
Today is a special day for the Wood Brothers. Leonard Wood is celebrating his 80th birthday and for those of you who know Leonard, he is 80 going on 20 . Leonard is quite possibly the most brilliant man I know, not to mention the baddest and raddest 80 year old ever to exist. What other 80 year old do you know that rocks designer clothes, listens to the latest music and hangs out with JAKE OWEN?? Between his latest racing project and his fun-filled personal life, he could have his own TV show, “Keeping up with Leonard”.
Leonard continues to amaze us all with his energizer bunny attitude and a mind that never ages. One of his latest projects is a miniature replica of the 1965 Lotus that he built for my nephew, Riley. I remember when he started the project, I walked back to his work area and he had about 50 papers spread all over the table. He was telling me that each part was going to be identical to the original Lotus and going through the steps of his master plan, which was based on images of the Lotus and not a single blueprint or whatever the mechanics/engineers use these days. I was amazed then but when I saw the project finished, I was speechless! Leonard was impressed with himself too, saying, “Not to many 80-year olds could make something like this”. Yes Leonard, you are correct and you are a GENIUS in my book.
So here is to you Leonard Wood, have a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!