Category Archives: 2009

Glen Wood Nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame

Glen Wood, Richard Childress Nominated for HOF Wednesday July 01, 2009.

This is the second “NASCAR Says” blog this week providing “sneak peeks” at the inaugural list of nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which will be announced Thursday night at 8 p.m. (ET) on SPEED. Immediately following, NASCAR.COM will open the fan vote portion which will help decide the Hall of Fame class.

It’s time for another behind-the-scenes preview of the first-ever nominations for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Later this week the entire 25-person list will be known. But we want to give you something to chew on, debate-wise, in advance. Yesterday we let you in on the fact that Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip are nominated.

Today. Here are two more names that will be on that list: Glen Wood and Richard Childress. Both were drivers originally, who switched their concentration to team ownership. Both ended up having some of NASCAR’s biggest stars drive their cars. Wood had David Pearson, Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Fred Lorenzen and currently, Bill Elliott. Childress’ big gun for years was Dale Earnhardt and as we all know, that was enough.

The Wood Brothers are credited with pioneering the modern-day pit stop, becoming one of the first organizations to recognize the value of pit-stop efficiency and how that could benefit a team over the course of a long afternoon of racing. Childress’ ownership efforts have continued admirably since Earnhardt’s 2001 passing. He has 11 owner championships in NASCAR’s three national series, which is a record, shared with Rick Hendrick. Wood or Childress – Which one are you partial to, in terms of HOF consideration?

SPEED will air an exclusive one-hour special at 8 p.m. ET Thursday from the site of the new NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., as NASCAR unveils the 25 nominees for the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

NASCAR Hall of Fame: The First Class will be hosted by legendary motor sports broadcaster Ken Squier, with guest appearances from NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France and NASCAR Hall of Fame historian Buz McKim. The NASCAR Hall of Fame has announced May 11, 2010, as the official grand opening date for the state-of-the-art facility under construction in Charlotte. To date, the NASCAR Hall of Fame has announced two major artifacts for display in the Hall — the Plymouth Belvedere that Richard Petty drove to 27 wins in 1967, and an epic collection of NASCAR awards and memorabilia donated by Raymond Parks, including the first NASCAR trophy ever awarded a team.

The hall’s inaugural class, consisting of five members, is scheduled to be enshrined in May 2010. That class will be selected by the Voting Panel from a list of 25 candidates assembled by a 21-person Nominating Committee. The Voting Panel will consist of the members of the Nominating Committee and 29 others from throughout the NASCAR industry. There also will be one more ballot, decided by a nationwide fan vote, for a total of 51 Voting Panel ballots. Members of the Nominating Committee represent NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, major race track ownership groups and operators of historic short tracks.

TNT’s “Pride of NASCAR” series featuring the Wood Brothers this Sunday

TNT’s NASCAR Coverage Continues with Sprint Cup Series Racing from Loudon on Sunday, June 28

Pre-race coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. ET; green flag drops at 2 p.m. ET

TNT continues its exclusive coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from Loudon on Sunday, June 28th live from New Hampshire International Speedway. The network will air the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 beginning at 2 p.m. ET with play-by-play announcer Bill Weber calling the race alongside analysts Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach in the booth. In addition, analyst Larry McReynolds will make frequent contributions from the in-field as he breaks down crew strategy and analyzes car adjustments.

The network will rev up its pre-race coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET with NASCAR on TNT Live! with Marc Fein (host), Petty and McReynolds. No. 2 Kurt Busch will join TNT’s infield rig for an interview prior to the race.

TNT’s acclaimed “Pride of NASCAR” series will feature the legendary NASCAR owners Wood Brothers who hold one of the longest and richest legacies in the sport, developing great drivers such as Junior Johnson, Dan Gurney, Donnie Allison, Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, Dale Jarrett, David Pearson, Michael Waltrip, Elliott Salder and TNT’s Kyle Petty. In 1976, the Wood Brothers won the coveted ‘Triple Crown’ of NASCAR with wins at the Daytona 500, World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. NASCAR on TNT Live! will be followed by Countdown to Green at 1:30 p.m. ET with Weber (host), Dallenbach (analyst) and Petty (analyst) with reports from pit reporters Marty Snider, Matt Yocum, Ralph Sheheen and Lindsay Czarniak.

During Countdown to Green, Sheheen will have an exclusive interview with No. 48 Jimmie Johnson to talk about a shared history between the two of them. Johnson began his career in off road racing and Sheheen was part of the broadcasting crew that covered the sport, including during Johnson’s teenage years. Johnson speaks about the impact of off road racing on his NASCAR career as well as his motivation to continue to succeed in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing.

Also, an interview with veteran crew chief Greg Zipadelli and his rookie driver No. 20 Joey Logano will air during the pre-race show. Countdown to Green leads into coverage of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Racing from Loudon at 2 p.m. ET with Weber, Dallenbach and Petty calling the action with frequent interaction with McReynolds (analyst) who will man the TNT Offtrack Robotic Car.

Throughout this year’s NASCAR on TNT Summer Series, the network will join forces with NASCAR.COM, the official site of NASCAR, to provide TNT RaceBuddy a multiplatform experience for race fans which features live feeds from the racetrack including pit road and in-car cameras, as well as live chats and polls. “1on1: Ford Racing’s expert on simulation Pat DiMarco”

As NASCAR program manager for Ford Racing, Pat DiMarco knows all about racing rivalries. But Ford and Chevy have nothing on the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry to which DiMarco, a two-time graduate of OSU (undergraduate and also grad school), is accustomed. DiMarco talked recently about his role in racing these days, as he heads up simulation programs and studies for all of NASCAR’s Ford racing teams, and how he still tracks the Buckeyes on the gridiron.

Q: So you are a native of Ohio and attended Ohio State University?

DiMarco: I grew up in Cleveland, the suburb of Garfield Heights. I got bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering at Ohio State. From there, I moved up to Ford — basically for the main purpose of going racing, to get into the racing division.

Q: Are there a lot of race fans at a school like Ohio State?

DiMarco: It’s a stick-and-ball sports school, but I would go to Indianapolis for the 500 from when I was about 10 years old on. The first year I went to Indianapolis was the first year they brought the [IndyCar] race to Burke Lakefront there in Cleveland. So that’s what got me started. I would go to those two races a year and I just loved it. I got into it and never let go until I got to Ford.

Q: Talk about what you do now with simulation, which seems to have increased in importance in racing in recent years?

DiMarco: I have sort of two roles now, where I’m in charge of the interface between the teams in NASCAR and Ford. I’m the guy on the ground every weekend at the race track. Then I’ve come up through and I’m also still responsible for our vehicle dynamics and chassis [development] with the engineering department. That’s where all of our simulation and element analysis and computer software tools come from — all the guys who work for me.

Q: How much has simulation changed in recent years?

DiMarco: I’ve been doing it for 12 years now. And the simulation program I used 12 years ago with the Truck Series was an Excel spreadsheet. You would type in numbers and get some basic balance characteristics of the car and weight transfer, and that’s what we used for simulation back then. It was all programmed by ourselves in Excel. It was very tedious. Now we have software guys who do that for us, and physicists that do all the math equations, and we pull it all together in basically what is the equivalent of a commercially available tool that engineers can buy off the shelf. We provide that to our teams.

Q: Sometimes when race fans hear about simulation, they think of drivers sitting in one of those race simulators — but you really get most of your usable information from data generated by assets like the seven-post shaker, right?

DiMarco: The seven-post is equivalent to the simulation in that the seven-poster will simulate the car on the race track with the physical components that you’re going to run. Simulation uses theoretical and made-up parts that we put into the simulation. We use ‘em side-by-side. We rely heavily on the simulation for things that are tried and true. The seven-poster we rely on prototype parts and innovative ideas that we come up with that we can’t really run in simulation until we prove them out on the seven-post.

Q: So are you doing now what you envisioned you would be doing in racing back in college, or as a kid?

DiMarco: Every year when I walk into the Brickyard, I walk out to the frontstretch and look up to the seats where I used to sit as a little kid. And then I say to myself, ‘You know, I’m very lucky to be here. I’m doing what I wanted to do.’ I used to sit up there and look down at all the guys working along pit road and say, ‘Man, those guys have the best job in the world.’ And it is the best job in the world if you love what you’re doing. If you don’t love it, it’s not the life for you. It’s a lot of travel. I have twin daughters at home who are 5, so that’s tough sometimes. But then they get to do some other things when I’m back home that maybe they wouldn’t get to do otherwise.

Q: How do you feel about the Ford teams’ chances the rest of this season?

DiMarco: Historically, the Ford teams run better as the season goes on. If you go back and look at the number of wins we’ve had in recent years, we’re definitely a second-half-of-the-year type team. When we race once at a track in a season, we learn from what we did wrong and really put ourselves in position for success the second time around at the same tracks. I think we learn from our failures.

Q: So were you a big Ohio State football fan when you were in school?

DiMarco: Yep. I went to every game when I was there.

Q: What years were you there?

DiMarco: I left high school in 1989, so ’89 through ’95.

Q: Ouch. Those were when John Cooper was coach of the football team, right?

DiMarco: All John Cooper. But he had some good teams. He had a couple of years where he came into Michigan undefeated or close to it, only to have all of us walk out of that game with our heads down.

Q: Now you live in Ann Arbor, Mich., home of the dreaded University of Michigan. Do you ever go to OSU-Michigan games there and wear your Ohio State gear?

DiMarco: Oh yeah. I’ve done that.

Q: How did that work out?

DiMarco: Not so well. We lost. I walked out early. But I live in Ann Arbor and put out my Ohio State flag proudly every Saturday. It’s fun walking around, going to the YMCA and wearing your Ohio State stuff — and having people stare at you. Well, it’s fun doing it now. I wouldn’t have done it when Cooper was the coach.

Q: What about the irony of you living in Ann Arbor now? Woody Hayes wouldn’t even stop in the state of Michigan for gas in the old days, would he?

DiMarco: Nope. But it works both ways. In fact, one of the guys who used to drive our tech trailer was a die-hard Michigan fan. He wouldn’t stop in Ohio for gas or cigarettes or nothing.

Q: So you’ve got some pretty intense in-house rivalries going on at Ford during the football season?

DiMarco: My boss is a U of M grad and so is his boss, so it’s really in-house. It’s a good time to be on the Ohio State side in that deal, though.

Ford’s Said To Use Wood Brothers Pit Crew

Boris Said, driver of the No. 08 No Fear Racing Ford Fusion, was the highest-qualifying Ford and will start ninth when the green flag falls tomorrow. He is still looking for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win and hopes to achieve that tomorrow with the help of the Wood Brothers pit crew.

Could history repeat? Remember, the Wood Brothers pit crew helped Jimmy Clark win the 1965 Indianapolis 500. Ford Racing spoke with Said and got Wood Brothers co-owner Eddie Wood on the telephone this morning at his home to talk about their arrangement.

BORIS SAID – No. 08 No Fear Racing Ford Fusion
“It’s kind of like riding a bull in a China shop. My Ford Fusion is over 850 horsepower and the tires aren’t that wide compared to a sportscar. We don’t have a lot of downforce, and then you put in the 43 guys that are like Dobermans with hand grenades in their mouth, especially this weekend with double-file restarts. It’s gonna be an exciting race for the fans.”

“Goodyear brought a new tires, so I really think to be consistent on the tire. It’s a softer tire, so it’s gonna go away and I think it’s gonna be a tire conservation race – who can go the longest. Our Ford Fusion gets unbelievable gas mileage, so I think our last stop is gonna be a long run to the end and, hopefully, that will get us good track position.”

“Like yesterday in qualifying I pretty much had a restrictor plate on me. Frankie (Stoddard) put it on me because he said, ‘If you spin off and make a mistake, we’re going home, so let’s just get it in the show.’ That’s the important thing to be here racing for John Carter, who put a lot of effort into this and this is probably the best qualifying he’s ever had, so I know he’s gonna be happy when he gets here tomorrow morning. I can’t wait to see him.”

“I hope so. It’s just that for a part-time guy it’s hard because, one, I haven’t driven one of these cars since February in the Twin 150’s. These guys are the best in the world at what they do and they’re in these cars week-in and week-out, and we throw some guys together and show up every three or four months, so it’s just tough. That’s a bigger uphill battle. We’ve been really close a lot of times and I’m not giving up. That’s my goal is to someday win one of these things.”

“This weekend we have Bill Elliott’s guys, the Wood Brothers 21 crew pitting our car, so I’m really happy about that. The Wood Brothers have been really nice about helping us out.”

EDDIE WOOD, Co-Owner – No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion

“We spoke a few weeks ago and Boris mentioned he was going to run Sonoma and didn’t have a pit crew, so since that race wasn’t on our schedule and we had no intentions of going, we offered up our guys. Boris Said helped us out at Watkins Glen a couple of years ago and has done a lot to help our road racing program overall,l and he’s just a friend. In fact, we’re trying to find some money to take Boris to Watkins Glen in one of our cars. We haven’t been successful so far, but we’re trying because there aren’t many better on a road course than him. Really, it’s just a case of friends take care of friends. He needs something and I’m glad we’re the ones who can be able to help him out. I’m sure he would do the same for us.”

—-Courtesy Ford Racing

Bill Elliott, Wood Brothers Keep Making Strides; Finish 16th at Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich., June 14, 2009—For Bill Elliott and the Wood Brothers, the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway over the weekend was another 400 miles in the right direction.

Elliott ran in or around the top 20 for the entire afternoon and then stretched 46 laps out of the last tank of fuel en route to a 16th-place finish on Sunday.

“The guys did a great job,” co-owner Eddie Wood said. “We had a great run and learned a lot.”

The 16th-place showing on Sunday follows the team’s best finish of the season, 15th at Charlotte three races ago. On Friday, Elliott qualified in the 15th position, making his No. 21 Motorcraft Fusion the top-qualifying Ford in the Michigan field.

“My hat’s off to these guys,” Elliott said. “They have done an awesome job. We just need to keep expanding on what we’re doing, but this Ford Motorcraft bunch has done a great job.”

In a race that produced only three caution flags, Elliott’s Ford, at times was running lap times as fast as those of the leaders. Following the race’s final caution period when the entire field pitted, a handful of the leaders eventually ran out of fuel, while Elliott maintained power to the end. Elliott made up four positions on the final run.

The Wood Brothers are running a limited 12-race schedule in 2009 as the team looks to regain the form it had when it was dominating the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the 1970’s.

Elliott, the 1988 series champion, is in his third season with the team, which will miss the next three races before returning to action on July 10-11 at Chicagoland Speedway, which – like Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, where Elliott scored his best finish of the season – is a 1½-mile track.

“Motorcraft and Ford Racing has helped us out on this deal for this year and believing in us to run a limited amount of races and it’s really paying off,” Elliott said. “I think [crew chief] David Hyder and all the guys working back at the shop have really improved this car 100 percent. From where we started the first of the year to the last two or three races, I think we’ve learned a lot.”

Pictures Courtesy of Dorsey Patrick and Jordan Wood

NASCAR Family Tree: The Lineage Of The No. 21

Wood Brothers’ Drivers Dominate The Number’s Rich History

(NOTE: This is the fifth installment in an occasional series of 2009 releases highlighting some of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ most renowned car numbers and their performance heritage. This installment takes a look at the No. 21.)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 11, 2009) – Peruse the entries for Sunday’s LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway and you’ll find a welcomed listing: Bill Elliott, in the No. 21 Ford fielded by Wood Brothers Racing. That one line has it all: Legendary driver, legendary team – and a legendary number.

The number has visited Victory Lane 90 times in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, a total shared among 17 drivers. No other car number has had so many different winners.

Arguably, no other car number has had so many great drivers behind the wheel. David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, A.J. Foyt, Tim Flock, Marvin Panch and Curtis Turner all drove the 21. Pearson had the most victories in the ride, 43, that total coming in 157 starts, another high for the 21.

Elliott is the latest of the greatest to take over the No. 21, albeit in a limited role. Both Elliott and the Wood Brothers compete part-time these days. Bill Elliott drives the modern incarnation of the Wood Brothers’ famed No. 21.

Michigan is a good fit for the team’s schedule, considering the car’s history at the 2-mile track. In 1969, Yarborough was in the No. 21 and won the track’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup event. Pearson had eight MIS wins in the 21 during the 1970s. Dale Jarrett drove the 21 in ’91 at MIS, capturing his very first NASCAR Sprint Cup win. And then there’s Elliott, with seven MIS wins in his storied career, although none came driving the 21.

The Wood Brothers first fielded the No. 21 in 1953, with team founder Glen Wood in the seat.

“Somehow along the way we ended up with 21,” said Glen’s son Len, now a part-owner of the team. “The story goes that there was somebody from South Carolina who had 21 and it was really running fast, so we numbered our car 21 in hopes it would be fast as well.

“We always like to do well in front of Ford [people] at Michigan. When you go to Michigan you think of Detroit, and when you think of Detroit you think of the manufacturers and for us it’s Ford. I won’t say we try harder there, but we certainly give it as good a shot as we can.”

For more information, contact:
Herb Branham NASCAR Public Relations, (386) 681-4164,

Courtesy Competition Plus, Drag Racing’s Internet Magazine


It started with a phone call. Where it will end is anyone’s guess.

Bob Tasca, III was looking for a building in the Charlotte are where he could house his NHRA Funny Car operation. Given his connections with Ford, it only seemed appropriate that he would call on the Wood Brothers for advice.

It was from those conversations that an invitation to attend an NHRA event was extended. Amazingly, even with a 65 year background in motorsports, neither of two second generation Wood Brothers had ever attended a drag race event of any kind. Then again, neither had the third generation of Tasca’s attended a NASCAR event.

One half of that scenario has now been resolved. The other will be cleared up before the end of the year. You can bet your Tasca on it.

Eddie and Len Wood, along with their wives were guests of Tasca Racing during the Route 66 Nationals at Joliet Raceway. 

Eddie Wood’s face was filled with his famous smile almost from the moment he stepped onto drag racing hallowed ground for the very first time. Len Wood, his eyes fill with the tears only nitro fumes can cause, was a model of restraint despite every muscle of his body aching to lay hands on the massive power plant sitting just a few feet away.

To say that both were awed by their very first trip to a drag race would be a major understatement. To say that their wives were equally impressed would be an outright lie. Carol and Nancy, wives to Eddie and Len, respectively, were as deeply involved in absorbing every minute of the experience as were their husbands.

Eddie immediately noticed the people. Len, the power. Their wives noticed everything about an atmosphere that is 180 degrees out from what they experience at a NASCAR event.

“The thing I noticed was how friendly the people were,” said Eddie when asked his first impression. “We parked exactly wrong from where our credentials were and we were able to walk from there all the way through the pit garage, whatever you call this area, and just explain to each gate guard what our problem was. Everybody was just so helpful. That impressed me.

“It’s such a fan friendly sport. The drivers, the cars, everything is so accessible. Everybody is just right here at it. That really impressed me.”  

“I wouldn’t have done it before, but now after being here, I would turn off my soap opera to watch drag racing.” - Carol Wood, wife of NASCAR car owner Eddie Wood 

While Eddie was impressed with the people, Len was almost glassy eyed taking in the sheer horsepower which surrounded him. A specially arranged trip to the “tree” during Tasca’s first qualifying run, which included being in position during the burn out, was something close to heaven for Len.

For Tasca, playing host to the Wood Brothers was an exhilarating experience.

“For me, it’s special having those who have never attended a drag race before,” said Tasca. “At every race there’s always a fan that comes out for the first time. We had astronauts in Houston and we’re preaching the platform of the NHRA and what our sport is about – the win on Sunday and sell on Monday.

“With the Wood Brothers we made a pact early in the season, when I was looking for a race shop in Charlotte and I really didn’t know what to do. I called the Wood Brothers and they hooked me up with Kenny Schrader. They had me taken care of while our shop was being taken care of.

“For them to see how we activate, the fan interaction, it’s incredible. [For them to say] our fans could never see this, never do this, our fans couldn’t get to here, to interact with the kids and seeing that is what is so special about our sport. The Wood Brothers are certainly going to leave here with an impression.”

Without a doubt, Eddie Wood walked away with a new appreciation for a sport he had watched in the in his peripheral vision. No more. Eddie took a good hard look at drag racing and loved what he saw. Loved it enough, when asked if there was interest in a deeper involvement in drag racing, a huge grin cross his his face as he said, “I really like this.”

Throughout the weekend, both Eddie and Len were amazed at how the basic fundamentals of running a race team were no different from a stock car team to a drag race team. Implementation was definitely different.

“Some things were alike, some things were different,” said Eddie. “He goes through four or five motors on a weekend and we hopefully get by with one. He hopefully drives just under a mile on Sunday, we might drive 300, 400 or 500 miles.

“When all is said and done, it’s still about the competition. You stand out there at the tree and the sounds waves are beating you in the chest. There is nothing like it. It’s like when they say “Gentleman start your engines” at our race, they fire them all up at once and the hair stands up on the back of your neck.”

There was something else Eddie and Len noticed – the dedication of Bob Tasca.

“I think all drivers are dedicated. They have to be to do what they do. Bob owns his own deal here. It’s his deal and he treats it like his baby. He knows everything that is going on. He has a lot of passion for his sport.

“He likes to drive these things.”

All in all it was an amazing weekend, watch two of oldest families in Ford racing history coming together for the very first time.

In the world of stock cars, NASCAR to be exact, one of the biggest names hails from a small rural town in western Virginia – Wood. In the world of drag racing, NHRA to be exact, there is an equally big name. A name, like Wood, which traces its roots to the very beginnings of the sport. That name is Tasca.

Watching Tasca spend every possible minute with Eddie and Len and the brothers never letting there gaze wander away from Tasca and his team was almost like watching two families, separated through no fault of their own, coming back together again in a grand celebration.

“I remember writing a letter to my Uncle Carl,” Tasca said, “when I was about to embark on my Alcohol Funny car career. I needed what I called starting line money. My family funded that program before Triple AAA, Motorcraft and Quick Lane came on.

“I remember writing that letter because I am a pretty button down guy and I had no business plan. I had no idea how I could, or if I could, gain a return on an investment in racing. I told him that I wasn’t sure where I was going with this, but I wanted to leave our family’s history in racing a little richer than I found it. That was my synopsis and I was really proud to be a third generation, flying the Tasca family banner, with legendary people like John Lawton and Bill Healy, who really pioneered this with my grandfather.

“Now, to look over my shoulder and see the Wood Brothers and how their generations have evolved and left that Ford Racing name a little richer than they found it; this is a connecting of two families and I think it is pretty neat.

“I can assure you that this won’t be their last drag race and I will attend more than one NASCAR race. It’s a special relationship that we share with Ford. They [Ford] have believed in us, invested in us and we, Tasca and Wood, carry the Ford banner with us as we go around the country.”

There is no doubt, Ford, no matter the generation, can’t help to be proud to know that the names Tasca and Wood are truly jut extensions of a great name in all of motorsports.

For Tommy Leskovan, having Eddie and Len Wood as guest for the weekend was almost like having good friends over for dinner.

Leskovan, a former engine tuner at Peske Racing and now car chief at Tasca Racing, knew about the Wood Brothers. He had just never met them until Eddie and Len walked into the pit area of Tasca Racing during the Route 66 Nationals at Rte 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.

“When you are in the sport, they are normal people,” said Leskovan. “You meet some people who are important or big in their industry or big in their sport and it’s fun to meet them. It’s fun to talk about their industry and our industry and compare how different they are and how similar they are.”

You could tell Leskovan was almost teasing Len Wood, at times. It was if Leskovan was holding an invitation to dive in and help, just outside the reach of Len’s fingers. The two laughed and joked through several rebuilds, Leskovan quick to answer questions with a smile.

And, when the work was done, Leskovan took a few minutes to just chat.

“We sat back and talked about how we knew the same people. I knew their son.” – Stan Creekmore

Wood Brothers Looking Forward to Michigan

The Wood Brothers, Bill Elliott and the #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion will be heading to Brooklyn, Michigan this weekend, the home track of the team’s primary sponsors Motorcraft and Ford Motor Company.

Michigan International Speedway (MIS) is a two-mile D-shaped oval with 18° banking in the turns, 12° banking on the frontstretch and 5° banking on the backstretch. NASCAR’s inaugural race at MIS in June of 1969 was won by Cale Yarborough in the Wood Brothers #21 Mercury.

The Wood Brothers have started each of the 78 NASCAR Sprint Cup races held at MIS earning 11 wins, 26 top fives, 37 top tens and 9 poles. Like the Wood Brothers, Bill Elliott has also accumulated impressive statistics at MIS. He has 57 starts with 7 wins, 17 top fives, 29 top ten finishes and 7 poles. Combined, Bill and the Wood Brothers have won almost one-quarter of the NASCAR Sprint Cup races held at MIS.

The teams will take to the track on Friday, June 12, 2009, with the first practice scheduled to begin at 11:30 am and qualifying to follow at 3:10 pm. You can watch practice and qualifying on the Speed Channel.

Photos courtesy of Dorsey Patrick Photography

Ford Racing Advance, NASCAR’s Wood Brothers Make First Trip to NHRA Event

Wood Brothers Racing co-owners Eddie and Len Wood attended their first-ever NHRA drag race event this weekend at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.  As guests of Bob Tasca III and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team, the Woods were able to get an insider’s view of drag racing.  Both Eddie and Len talked about their trip to Joliet and compared NASCAR to NHRA racing.


EDDIE WOOD – co-owner, No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion – “It’s hard to put into words.  This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever been to – ever.  We were always racing somewhere when the drag race was close by and we never really had the opportunity to go.  We were talking to Motorcraft and the guys at Ford Racing about wanting to go and we picked Chicago. We got to go to the starting line. You see people on TV standing there, but until you experience it, and that’s what everybody told me, ‘It will change your life,’ and I believe that.  The feeling you get in your chest and your whole body – you can feel that horsepower, from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet.  To me, that was the most impressive thing. And I love the smell of nitro.  Yeah, it burns your eyes and all that, that’s okay, but I really like this.  I like the smell of the rubber.  I like the smell of the nitro.  I just like everything about it.  The people are very, very accommodating.  The fans are friendly, the drivers and the people that work on the cars; everybody is just great.  This is really a good atmosphere.  The group as a whole, NHRA, has something to be proud of.”

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE WEEKEND, SO FAR? “Everything about it is my favorite.  Tomorrow we’ll see the eliminations. Everything we’ve seen so far has been qualifying.  Being down on the starting line and being right nearly three feet away from the cars when they light them, that’s got to be the high point of it.  You can’t describe it; you’ve got to go do it.  It’s that big.”

CAN YOU COMPARE NHRA RACING TO NASCAR? “When they pull up to the line, they’ve done the burnout and they’re getting ready to go, it reminds me at our races and they fire them off when they say, ‘Gentlemen, start your engines.’ That’s kind of the same feeling.  It’s the feeling that I had when I was a kid and now I still have it.  You never lose that.  To me, that’s the most exciting part of our racing or this race or any race is after they sing the anthem and start the engines.  That to me is the coolest part.  To compare it to this, that’s the comparison I can make.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CREW MEMBERS REBUILDING THE ENGINE AFTER EACH ROUND? “That’s unbelievable to do that. I think they take it all the way down to the bare block in 12 minutes and have it back running in 25 more minutes – that’s unbelievable.  I’ve seen it on TV and I knew they did it, but to watch them do it, they’re almost choreographed.  Everybody knows what everybody else is doing.  They don’t run into each other.  It’s kind of like our pit stops.  Everybody’s got to do what they are suppose to do and not get in each other’s way.  That’s impressive.  Everything about this is impressive, the hospitality, the stuff they do here with Motorcraft is second to none.  They really take care of the people. At the end of the day, the fan is what really matters in this sport, our sport, any sport.  It reminds me a lot of NASCAR. NHRA takes care of their fans and that’s what it’s all about.”

ARE YOU PLANNING TO ATTEND ANOTHER NHRA RACE? “Absolutely. I’m already trying to figure out which one I’m going to come to.  I think we’re not racing the weekend NHRA is in Charlotte, so we’ll definitely be there.  I’d like to go to one of the older tracks. We’ve got Darlington and Martinsville, and those tracks mean a lot to me, so I’m sure there are drag strips that are like that that have history to them.  They’re racing in Englishtown next week, that’s an older one, Pomona and Gainesville.  I’d like to go to Indy.  This is kind of like the racing we do everywhere, every race is a big race.  Each one has it’s own characteristics.  This is good stuff.”

AS GUESTS OF MOTORCRAFT, WERE YOU ABLE TO SPEND TIME WITH DRIVER BOB TASCA III? “Bob is great.  He’s a good driver and good host.  Obviously, from what he’s got going on here, he really gets the marketing side of racing.  I’ve learned a lot from him, just things he does and how he conducts himself.  He gets it.  He’s very passionate about driving his Funny Car.  He’s a perfectionist, I can see that, which that’s what it takes to be successful in any kind of racing.  He’s got the right stuff, there’s no doubt about that. One thing that I’m really proud of is to get to know him and his family because we have a lot in common.  His family has been racing for generations as well as ours but the one common thing we’ve all got going, the common bond is the Blue Oval.  We’ve never raced anything but Ford Motor Company products and they’re the same way and I think that’s what brings us all together.”

LEN WOOD – co-owner, No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion – “It’s amazing to what these guys work.  To tear the engines completely down in 12 minutes, then reassemble them and be running in 45 minutes after they just finished their run – that’s amazing.  I understand more about it now the way they’ve got everything. It’s almost like a modular type deal.  They’ve got their heads prepped ready to go on the next set.  The blower is all prepped and ready. Each thing is a unit and you just pack about five units together and you’ve got an engine.  It’s amazing.”


WHAT WAS THE MOST INTERESTING PART OF THE WEEKEND FOR YOU? “The pounding your chest gets when the official starts the tree and then the cars are gone.  You feel like your chest is going to explode.  That is something you don’t get on TV.  Between the pounding of your chest and the smell of the nitro, if they could bottle that and send it as part of your TV package, it would be better on TV.  It’s amazing.”

CAN YOU COMPARE NHRA TO NASCAR? “I was thinking about similarities and differences.  They’ve got to run four seconds, we’ve got to run four hundred miles.  They use a couple sets a tires a weekend, we use 18 sets sometimes.  Their pit stop, so to speak, is changing the engine, and they’ve got 45 to 50 minutes to do it.  Our pit stop happens several times a race and it better be quicker than 15 seconds.  I think both sets of fans are passionate about their sport.  In NHRA you can probably interact a little better with the drivers and see the cars and smell the fuel. It’s a little bit harder to do that at a Cup race, but then again, they probably have about 30,000 or 40,000 people where at a Cup race, you’re looking at 100,000. You’ve got to manage your crowd.  It’s still about who can beat the other guy, the competition.”

UP TO THIS POINT OF THE WEEKEND, TASCA HAS MADE FOUR RUNS AND HAS 16 SECONDS OF DATA.  DURING YOUR RACE WEEKEND, YOU USUALLY HAVE A NUMBER PRACTICE SESSIONS AND QUALIFYING.  HOW DOES THAT COMPARE?  “With drag racing, they have data acquisition, Tasca can show us exactly how fast he was running at certain points of the race track, how quick he got to the gas, when the driveshaft started to go haywire to when the clutch melted. We’re not allowed to use data acquisition, so we rely more on the driver’s feel and the crew chief’s gut instinct on what to do based on what the driver thinks.  When we test, we have the data acquisition on it and rely on it then, but at a race, we can’t do that.  That’s a cost containment thing, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it until someone comes out with something new, then you have to have that.  Bob is very into what is going on.  He was watching those graphs and showing us a near perfect run.  Now, that near perfect run he can compare if he goes to Englishtown next weekend or Charlotte in the fall.  This near perfect run is if you can exceed that.”

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE PITS? “The way it’s laid out, Tasca’s stuff is more like a workshop, more like what we use to have.  We’ve been here with a lathe and drill press in our hauler, but we kind of got away from there. They’re rebuilding the engine all the time, where we rebuild the car all the time, sort of.  Not really the body, but re-doing the springs or shocks or bump stops or something about the suspension is constantly changing and the engine gets very little. We have to be ready to go when we get there, change spark plugs and things like that.  This is an engine with a car around.  We have a car with an engine in it.  This is more engine focused.  The 8,000 horsepower is amazing.  They pretty much have more in one cylinder that we’ve got total.  Somebody asked if we could make 8,000 horsepower and go around the race track.  I don’t think it would make the turn.”

Courtesy Ford Racing

Bob Tasca III, driver of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Mustang, heads into Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., sitting eighth place in NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series points with nine races remaining before the start of the Countdown. Tasca talks about racing in Chicago and hosting the Wood Brothers Racing co-owners in their first-ever NHRA drag race.  Tasca will also be hosting JDRF children as part of the Funny Car Contest Design contest.

BOB TASCA III – MOTORCRAFT/QUICK LANE SHELBY MUSTANG NITRO FUNNY CAR – WHAT MAKES THE CHICAGO TRACK UNIQUE? “The Chicago track is like a football stadium. I remember being on the starting line out for the first time in Chicago and couldn’t believe how many people I could see there. It is a three-quarter bowl that wraps all the way around where the fans sit, so it’s a real neat complex. The racing surface is second to none. It is hands down one of the top facilities in the country and it really showcases our sport. Obviously weather can always play a factor in having these cars that can go A to B, but Chicago certainly lends itself well as a facility and a complex where the fans can see some amazing runs and races down the track.”

YOU’RE IN THE SECOND RACE OF A THREE-RACE STRETCH.  WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH IN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS? “I want to win Chicago and Englishtown.  Chicago and Englishtown are going to be critical for those that are in the top 10 and those that are out to start to get some points because eventually you run out of real estate.  At every race there are only eight cars that get points. That’s something that’s different from NASCAR and other series.  The top eight that advance, they get points, the eight that lose don’t get any points. It’s a high-pressure time; I’m glad to be in the thick of it. I’m glad to have a teammate like Tim Wilkerson, who has certainly brought a lot to the table for us, but most importantly I’m glad to have a team, led by Chris Cunningham, that’s so methodical, so discipline, they give me a race car that is right in the thick of this fight. I’ve got a great Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Mustang and a great team.  Every race that I get some more laps under my belt I get more comfortable in the car. I’ve got big aspirations for Chicago, it’s a big stage, I performed well at the big stage in Gainesville, and I just as soon do it again in Chicago.”

THIS WEEKEND, YOU WILL BE HOSTING THE WOOD BROTHERS, EDDIE AND LEN, IN THEIR FIRST NHRA RACE.  “It’s always exciting to see the reaction and the impression we make on first-time fans.  Obviously with the Wood Brothers coming to the race, I look forward to it even more because they’re racers, they have been immersed in NASCAR culture for years.  For them to see what we do and how we do it, I think they are going to be very impressed and blown away by the performance of these cars and what we’re able to do in a short period of time. I find it fun just to be a part of someone’s first time at a drag race.  At every race this year, I’ve had people in the pits for their very first drag race.  We had the astronauts out for the first time in Houston, and Kenny Schrader was at a race, too.  For me, I’ve never been to a NASCAR race and I’m looking forward to doing it. I’m looking forward to having the Wood Brothers out and give them a taste of what our sport is all about.”

AS PART OF THE JDRF [JUVENILE DIABETES RESEARCH FOUNDATION] DESIGN A FUNNY CAR PROGRAM, THE TEAM HOSTS CHILDREN AND THEIR PARENTS AT SELECT RACES.  THIS IS THE FIRST RACE WHERE YOU’RE GOING TO BE HOSTING JDRF CHILDREN. “Yes, I’m very excited about having the JDRF kids out on Sunday. One of the greatest parts of what I do is interacting with the kids at the ropes, signing autographs and seeing the expressions on their faces when they watch these cars do what they do. Being a part of a cause looking for a cure has been something I really enjoy being a part of and meeting and interacting with so many children and families with diabetes. I can’t wait for Sunday, I know the kids are coming and they can’t wait and looking forward to this contest and voting on some pretty cool cars, which I’m sure there will be quite a few of them.”