Wood Brothers Racing has become something of a common face in NASCAR. Their consistent attendance year in and year out has possibly gone unnoticed to some, so one member of the family has set out to make sure the team’s founding fathers get the recognition they finally deserve for their unwavering show of perseverance.
Jon Wood, third-generation family member and former Wood Brothers Racing driver, grew up with a fascination for a very peculiar book. That book came to his elementary school once a year when the bookmobile would roll into town. The one book that was so captivating was the Guinness Book of World Records. “From the beginning I have been fascinated with the Guinness Book of World Records,” said Wood. “I remember thinking that one day I would figure out a way to do something worthy of being in the Book. I think that’s just part of a child’s fairytale-like thought process.”
Wood, now 33, isn’t alone in his fascination of the Guinness Books. The book itself holds a world’s record as the best-selling copyrighted book of all time. And it’s also one of the most pilfered books from public libraries in the United States. Recently, while clearing the crawlspace of his house in preparation for some repairs, he was rummaging through an accumulation of junk destined for the dumpster and came across a 50th anniversary edition of the Guinness Book. And, since he’d been working on a logo for his team’s upcoming 65th anniversary in NASCAR, it occurred to him that his childhood dream was not as far-fetched as it seemed back in his elementary school days.
His family’s race team, founded in 1950 by his grandfather Glen Wood, is generally considered NASCAR’s longest active race team. The Woods have fielded cars every year since 1950, and while other established teams have come and gone, the Woods have maintained the same ownership through the present. That fact; however, has never been officially recognized, and Wood wanted to do something about that. “This is a huge accomplishment when you take a step back and really digest it,” he said. “To be able to say that you have been able to have that level of consistency is pretty outstanding.” All that was missing, Wood said, was a statement, in print, in a publication that wouldn’t be challenged, that read: “Wood Brothers Racing is the longest active NASCAR team.” He immediately got on the Guinness World Records website and submitted an application for a record claim. “Very quickly I got a response from their sports records coordinator, and he was highly interested in helping with this claim,” Wood said. The next step was finding a way to substantiate the record. For that he turned to Buz McKim, Historian at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. McKim quickly verified the Woods’ record, and as they say, the rest is history.
For Jon, getting his family’s accomplishment documented in the Guinness Book of World Records makes the record that much more meaningful. “I realize that when it comes to the Book, the first thought in some people’s minds are some of the wacky, crazy records, like one for the most sneezes in one minute or something,” he said. “But on the flip side to that, whether it’s a record of a silly nature, or serious ones like land-speed records, there is only one global authority, and that is the Guinness Book of World Records. My goal was to both validate the claim that Wood Brothers Racing is the longest active team in NASCAR and also honor my grandfather and his brother Leonard for what I believe to be an astounding accomplishment.” His grandfather Glen, team founder and family patriarch, also shares the same views when asked what special place this record holds. “This is pretty big for us. It’s a big deal to us and I’m sure a big deal to Ford. Without their support from day one, there is no way we would be where we are today. We’ve come a long way since the days under a beech tree. We’ve had ups and we’ve had downs, so when we get recognition like this, it just makes it all the more meaningful.
Getting this documented and on paper brings feelings of accomplishment that is shared by members of three generations of Woods, each of whom has played a role in the team’s longevity. That includes Jon himself, who has worn several hats, so to speak, over the years. “While I’ve had a very minimal role in helping to keep the team going for all of these years, I did drive for them for a short period of time, so that just adds to the feeling of involvement,” he said. “Today, the makeup of the entire front office is all family. All of us are directly related. We are the true definition of a family business, and when something like this happens, we all feel a huge sense of gratification.”