Category Archives: 2010

Bayne Brings the Wood Brothers Back to Victory Lane in the Daytona 500

Trevor Bayne : Winner of the 2011 Daytona 500

Over the past 61 years, the Wood Brothers of Stuart, Va., have played a part in some of the most memorable moments in motorsports. But Trevor Bayne’s victory in Sunday’s Daytona 500 topped them all. Bayne, making just his second career Sprint Cup start and his first in the Great American Race, scored a stunning victory, ending a 10-year losing streak for NASCAR’s oldest race team and giving Ford Motor Company its 600th Sprint Cup victory.

The win was special in many ways. It was a dramatic victory by a clean-cut fresh-faced youngster, and it was a popular triumph for the Woods, who remain some of the most respected people in the NASCAR garage. But for the Woods themselves, their fifth Daytona 500 triumph was a way for the current members of the team to pay back all the people that have stood behind them all these years.

“I walked in Victory Lane with Richard Petty and Edsel Ford and my dad,” said Eddie Wood, co-owner of the winning Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion. “I don’t know how much better that can get.”

Wood went on to say that the victory is important not only for his father, team owner Glen Wood, but also for the original members of the family race team, people like Glen’s brothers Leonard, Ray Lee, Delano and Clay, as well as all the others who have been a part of the team over the years.

Wood also mentioned the leaders at Ford Motor Company, who stuck by the Woods even as they struggled on the race track in recent seasons. He pointed to people like Edsel Ford, Alan Mulally Jim Farley and Mark Fields who not only helped the Woods get back on track but did the same for Ford Motor Company itself.

“They knew what to do,” Wood said. “We’re so proud to be a part of those guys. We have raced Ford Motor Company products exclusively since 1950. One of the most important things to our racing family is our relationship with Ford Motor Company.”

Wood said it meant even more to be the team that gave Ford its 600th Cup victory.

“For us to be the guys that gave it to them with Trevor at the wheel is just a storybook ending for it,” he said. “I’m just so proud to be a part of their world.  They mean the world to us.”

Crew chief Donnie Wingo also found himself talking about long-term relationships during his part of the winner’s interview. “I’ve known these guys here for probably about 30 years,” he said of Eddie and Len Wood.

“With everything the way it worked out last year, the opportunity for me to come over and work with this great group of people, you know, I couldn’t be prouder, couldn’t be happier.”

Bayne, who held off a pack of veteran drivers in a green-white-checkered-flag dash to the finish and beat Carl Edwards by .118 seconds, said he felt fortunate to be a part of one of the greatest moments in NASCAR history.

“I almost feel undeserving because there’s guys like Donnie and all these guys out here that are racing against us that have been trying to do this for so long,” he said. “But there’s nobody that deserves it more than any of these guys sitting up here.  I’m just glad I got to be the guy sitting behind the wheel for these guys to get this win.”

For 85-year-old Glen Wood, who has been to Victory Lane with some of auto racing’s all-time great drivers, Sunday’s trip was about the sweetest he can remember.

“It’s the greatest thing we’ve ever had happen to us,” he said. “It’s certainly put us in the spotlight more than I can ever remember.”

He said he was especially proud for his sons Eddie and Len and daughter Kim, who now manage the day-to-day affairs of the family race team. He said the second generation racers are responsible for forging a relationship with Roush Fenway Racing that helped them get a Roush car, and it was that trio that decided to hire Donnie Wingo as crew chief and Bayne as the driver.

“It was their call,” he said.

And he had high praise for Bayne, who was a front-runner from the first day of practice for the 500.

“Trevor deserved to win,” Wood said. “He earned it. He didn’t luck into it at all.

“He ran as good or better than any of them did all day long.”

Bayne’s victory continues a streak that has seen the Woods improve their performance over the past year or so, an uphill turn that the team badly needed.

But Eddie Wood said that even as the team struggled through tough times and failed to qualify for races, no one in the family ever considered giving up.

“You begin to think you can never get back, but you keep trying,” he said. “Just the fact that you want one more trophy, one more trophy, you just can’t quit.  And we never did quit.  We just kept trying.”

And on Sunday, just like in the team’s glory years, the red and white Ford with the gold 21 on the doors was in the hunt all day and in Victory Lane afterward.

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion was painted in those throw-back colors to honor David Pearson’s upcoming induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but Wood said the colors seemed to do much more than honor a famous former driver.

“Bringing back the red and white car with the gold numbers that Pearson drove, that just seemed like it put things back to normal,” he said.

Bayne’s Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion is Good as New for the 53rd Daytona 500


After Trevor Bayne was involved in a last-lap crash in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel, Donnie Wingo and the crew of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion turned the garage at Daytona International Speedway into a make-shift auto body shop.

While other teams practiced on the track on Friday, members of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew were fabricating body panels, welding them on the car, smoothing the seams with body filler and doing everything they could to make sure the car was as quick as it was before.

When Bayne went out for practice Saturday morning, Wingo, the crew chief, and the rest of the team had their answer. The car performed flawlessly.

“We’re happy with it,” Wingo said. “It turned out great. Everybody did a really great job.”

Wingo said Bayne, who turned 20 on Saturday, didn’t try to set any speed records, but spent his time on the track practicing the two-car tandem draft with drivers including fellow Ford driver Greg Biffle and Joey Logano.

“We were better as a pusher, but we’re good either way,” Wingo said.

In Thursday’s Duel, Bayne proved to be an expert pusher. He paired up with veteran Jeff Gordon and raced in the lead pack for the entire 150-mile run.

Team co-owner Len Wood said the decision to go with repairing the primary car instead of going to a back-up was a fairly easy one, especially since some of the fabricators from Roush Fenway Racing who helped build the car originally, were on hand and prepared to help make it like new again.

“They said they had the parts to do it, so Donnie was trying to weigh out whether we needed practice or not and how much time we could allot to fixing it, so the decision was made to fix it,” Wood said, adding that some of the needed parts were brought to Daytona from Charlotte on a truck bringing a new back-up car for Roush’s driver David Ragan, who was involved in the same crash that damaged Bayne’s car.
Wood went on to say that by the time Speedweeks gets to its final days, there’s little that can be done to find additional speed, so the important thing is just to get the car back to specifications and prepared for Sunday’s 500 miler.
“What you’ve got down here is what you’ve got,” Wood said. “It’s not like we’re going to go out there and pick up another quarter-of-a-second by trying this or that.  “It’s going to be a lot about who your partner is on Sunday.”
Wingo said that after qualifying third fastest last Sunday, then running in the lead pack and as high as second place in the Gatorade Duel, it’s been an amazing week, other than the minor last-lap incident on Thursday, which relegated the team to a 32nd starting position. “It’s been really good,” he said. “We were about a half-mile away from having a perfect week so far. “The key now is to try to avoid having an incident during the race and be ready for the finish.”  
The green flag for the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 is scheduled to fly just after 1 p.m. on Sunday Feb. 20, with TV coverage on FOX.

Pearson’s Daytona 500 Winner Was One Memorable Mercury

As he watches his rookie driver Trevor Bayne work his way into a job in the Sprint Cup Series, Eddie Wood can’t help but think back to the days when he was just coming into his own as a mechanic on his family’s race team.

One race that stands above the rest from Wood’s early days as a full-time mechanic was the 1976 Daytona 500, a race that is rated by many as having the most exciting finish ever in NASCAR.

In that race, the Woods’ driver David Pearson drove a 1976 Mercury Montego.

Eddie Wood, now a co-owner of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion driven by Bayne, remembers that the car arrived at the team’s race shop in Stuart, Va., as just a rolling chassis with the roof and quarter panels tack welded on. It was built up to that point by famed car builder Banjo Matthews, and it was up to the team to complete the car and prepare it for racing. Unlike today, where teams prepare fleets of cars to start the season, the Woods had just one car to build. And whereas today’s race teams have dozens of mechanics assigned to car preparation, the Woods handled that basically by themselves.
Team founder Glen Wood, his brother Leonard, and Glen’s sons Eddie and Len had just one full-time employee besides themselves working in the shop.

Eddie Wood, then 24, said he and his brother decided they’d like to paint the inside of their car something other than the dull flat black that it had been in the past. Their inspiration came in part from seeing their friends and rivals at Petty Enterprises paint the insides of their cars blue.

Wood said the first color chosen for the Mercury’s interior was silver.

“We painted it in the middle of the floor,” Wood said.

But when it was done, it just didn’t look right.

“We got together, Len, myself and Leonard and got lacquer thinner and some rags and wiped all that paint off,” he said. “Then we painted it in red lacquer.”

Wood said that experience illustrated how his uncle Leonard, who is still regarded as one of the brightest minds in the NASCAR garage, was patient with his nephews and willing to try their ideas on a race car.

But, as Wood pointed out, Leonard’s primary focus was on that No. 21 and making it fast. And at the race tracks, when Len and Eddie would wander around the garage and check out other cars, Leonard never ventured far from the No. 21’s garage stall.

“He stuck close with the car,” Wood said. “It was his baby.”
For the ’76 Daytona 500, Leonard’s baby was one of the best in the field.

A former Woods driver, A.J. Foyt led the most laps that day, but his Hoss Ellington Chevrolet blew an engine. Buddy Baker, who would eventually drive the No. 21, led 28 laps in Bud Moore’s Ford, but also blew an engine.

But all the while, from the drop of the green flag, the two drivers at the head of the class were Pearson and Richard Petty, just as they were at countless other races and countless other tracks back in the day.

The Pettys and Woods were fierce rivals, but also friends. It was true then, and it’s true today. “We’ve always been friends with the Pettys,” Wood said. “When we were running a limited schedule and happened to fall out of a race, we’d go stand with Dale Inman in Petty’s pits. It’s still that way today.”

As the laps wound down back in February of 1976, Pearson led from Lap 177 to 187. Then Petty led from 188-199.

As usual for those times, Eddie Wood was the only team member in radio contact with Pearson. “Leonard was the crew chief and changed tires, and he didn’t want to be bothered with the radio,” Wood said.

As Pearson trailed Petty under the white flag, Wood keyed his radio and asked his driver:
“Can you get him?”
The reply was brief: “I don’t know.”
The cars went out of sight into Turn One. With no TV monitor and no vantage point providing a view of the backstretch, Wood and the rest of the people on pit road were left to wonder what was happening.

As the cars roared off Turn Two down the backstretch, the crowd began to stand up. A roar was building.

Pearson came on the radio with a simple update: “I got him.”

Pearson went high to the lead, but Petty came back on the low side. The two future Hall of Famers ran side by side, but a slight bump set in motion a series of events that have become an unforgettable part of Daytona and NASCAR lore.

Wood still couldn’t see what was happening and only got a brief report from Pearson over the radio: “He hit me.”

By this point, everybody at Daytona International Speedway was going wild. “Especially me,” Wood said. “I knew what had happened before they came into sight.”
Wood looked to his right and saw Petty’s Dodge sliding through the grass toward the plane of the finish line. But he slid to a stop just shy of victory.

Then Wood heard Pearson on the radio, asking: “Where’s Richard?”

It was a moment that clearly illustrated just how calm Pearson was in that situation compared to everyone else around him.

“I couldn’t even find the button to push to answer him,” Wood said.

When Wood finally got the message back to Pearson that Petty had not crossed the finish line, Pearson responded, as calm as ever: “I’m coming.”
And he won the Daytona 500, at about 20 miles per hour.

Wood said that over the years, he’s watched replays of that finish, and come to appreciate even more just how calm the Silver Fox was in those critical moments.

“When he asked me ‘Where’s Richard’ he was spinning,” Wood said. “He had clutched the car and was keeping it running, which was using both feet. He had to use one hand to push the talk button, which was on his shoulder harness, and he still had to steer the car.

“And there was no emotion in his voice.”
In the years since, moments like that have helped build a special bond between Pearson and Wood.
“There was nobody monitoring the radio,” Wood said. “I’m the only one that knows just how calm he was.”
But the story of that Mercury and David Pearson didn’t end with that finish. The car was rebuilt and Pearson drove it to victory in the sport’s other two big races that year – the World 600 at Charlotte and the Southern 500 at Darlington, all won with the same engine block that was in the car at Daytona.

The car later served as a show car for series sponsor Winston, then ended up parked out back of the Woods’ shop in Stuart, made obsolete by NASCAR’s downsizing of the Cup cars.

“We sold it for $200 just to get it out of the way,” Wood said.

The car found its way to a junkyard in Florida, where it was rescued and restored. At last report it was on display in the Museum of American Speed in Lincoln, Neb.

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Daytona 500 Advance, Daytona International Speedway

  Even though the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion of Trevor Bayne
suffered body damage in Thursday’s last-lap accident of the second
Gatorade Duel race, the team has decided to try and fix their primary
car.  Bayne will not participate in today’s practice sessions as
repairs continue.  Co-owner Len Wood talked about what went into that
decision this morning at Daytona International Speedway.

LEN WOOD, Co-Owner – No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion – WHAT WENT INTO
BACK-UP?  “We were standing there looking at it yesterday and some of
the guys in Jack’s fab shop that helped build the car to start with
said they could fix it.  They said they had the parts to do it, so
Donnie was trying to weigh out whether we needed practice or not and
how much time we could allot to fixing it, so the decision was made to
fix it.  They had more parts that came down on a truck this morning.
They were swapping the 6 out, bringing him another back-up car, so
they brought a few more parts.  They’re moving along really good on
it.  We won’t run today.  We’ll put the race engine in it probably
this afternoon and get ready to hopefully run some tomorrow and then
be ready for the 500.”

THAT YOU CAN’T SEE?  “That’s what we did first.  We looked around to
see if there was any frame damage.  Did we bend the front clip?  We
didn’t hit anything with the wheels, so nothing appears to be wrong
with any of that, so that was one of the decisions.  There was grass
everywhere.  Sometimes you see cars almost fold the front end under
when they go through the grass.  You can bend a front clip really easy
like that.  Well, when all the grass came he was backwards and he was
catching it with the back of the splitter, so he didn’t tear any of
that off.  When you put the hood down, the hood still fit, so all of
that was still good.”

WHAT ARE YOU REPAIRING?  “We’re putting a left side on the car from
the rear tire forward, and then there’s a little piece on the
left-front of the nose that had to be patched and a piece over the
right-front fender.  On the right side, they had to beat it out just a
little bit, but they didn’t cut anything.  We’ll probably do some
wrapping and painting.  We’ll do a combination.  We may not have that
part finished until after we run tomorrow.  The main thing will be
getting it back together and get out there to run a few laps tomorrow.
What you’ve got down here is what you’ve got.  It’s not like we’re
gonna go out there and pick up another quarter-of-a-second by trying
this or that.  It’s gonna be a lot about who your partner is on

impressed because on Wednesday I don’t think anybody wanted to draft
with a rookie.  It was a little bit frustrating to start because we
couldn’t get going, but then late in practice Kyle Busch said he would
run with us.  They ran about six laps and did the swap and Kyle told
him what to do on the exchange and how to drag the brake.  He helped
Trevor out a little bit, but he only had about six laps of two-car
drafting before that race yesterday.  In December, we ran 400 miles of
drafting practice in that tire test, but none of it was touching
anybody.  Nobody did that until we came back for the January test.  At
that test, we were doing single-car runs trying to get speed in the
car, so we’ll see what he’s got on Sunday.”
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES    Daytona 500 Advance, Page 5       
February 13, 2011    Daytona International Speedway   

   The Wood Brothers have been racing since 1950, but founder Glen Wood
has been coming to Daytona since 1947 and has been to every Daytona
500.  Ford Racing reminisced with Wood earlier this week about what
racing was like on the beach and how he got started coming to Daytona
every February.

GLEN WOOD, Owner – No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion – HOW LONG HAVE YOU
BEEN COMING TO DAYTONA?  “I started coming here in 1947 and this makes
the 65th straight year I’ve been down here.  I came here for the first
time with Bernece’s dad and brother in 1947 in a little ’44 Ford.  We
just sort of started going to races back at home after the war, and I
asked them about going down to Florida and they agreed.  That was the
start and we decided to go back the next year and I’ve done it every
year since then.  I’m lucky that I’ve felt good and haven’t been sick
to where I couldn’t go during this time, but the other thing about
coming down here is I’ve always driven.  I’ve come down here before by
plane for the Fourth of July race.  I haven’t been to every one of
those, but I have been here for all of the 500s.”

HOW HAS THIS AREA CHANGED?  “I remember when there wasn’t a track here
and you’d come by 92 and see stumps rooted up out of the ground
because it was just wilderness out here.  It’s just like you see in a
lot of places where there are swamps, palm trees and water.  I’m sure
Big Bill noticed that it was getting built up on the beach with houses
right along where the track was, and that was a big change.  There got
to be several houses in that last two miles down to the lighthouse and
it got so that they would have to tell them, ‘You can’t go out.  If
you’ve got to go anywhere, get out of here now and don’t come back
until tonight.'”

YOU RACED ON THE BEACH.  WHAT WAS IT LIKE? – “You would start down by
the lighthouse and I can remember the first year I ran it there were
more than 100 cars in the race.  Can you imagine that many starting
and then realizing that we’ve all got to slow down and make that turn
at the North Turn (where the North Turn Restaurant is now).  What
they’d do is they would turn off the ocean and get back up on the
highway right there and go two miles down toward the lighthouse.  I
don’t know how many of us ran over the bank down on the other end.
One of the guys asked me one time, ‘How do you keep from running over
the bank?’  First thing, when you would come over the last rise, you
could see the turn so I would pump my brakes a little bit to see if
I’ve got some.  Back then, it was common to have a vibration break a
brake line and you wouldn’t have any brakes, so that was the worst
thing you could do going down in there without any brakes.  So, I
would pump the brakes and realize the turn was coming up and just
slowed down.  Curtis Turner was the best that ever was on the beach.
I’d say he would throw it sideways for at least 100 feet and it was
the prettiest drift you ever saw coming into the North Turn and he
never did go wobbling out like a lot of them.  He went out of there
just as pretty every time.  He is one of the legends over here from
the very start.  I didn’t drive quite like Curtis did and even though
I’d have some drift once you got into it, he was just the one you had
to watch.  He enjoyed doing that on every dirt or half-mile track, but
when it got serious and he needed to tighten up to keep things
together, he’d drive it a little more stable.”

Bayne Pushes His Way Into the Spotlight in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel at Daytona

As the sun set at Daytona International Speedway Thursday evening, Trevor Bayne and one of his car owners, Eddie Wood, stood in the garage, discussing the just-completed Gatorade Duel and watching as their crew worked to repair the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, damaged on a last-lap crash.
But instead of frets and frowns over a wrecked car, there were smiles all around. In just his second official run in a Sprint Cup car and his first at Daytona in NASCAR’s elite Sprint Cup Series, Bayne had given the No. 21 a ride reminiscent of the days when Hall of Famer David Pearson was at the wheel.

Bayne drafted all day with Jeff Gordon, who sought him out for a partner. The pair raced at the front of the pack throughout the race but wrecked coming to the checkered flag, spoiling what could have been a spectacular finish.

But as Wood pointed out, the car is repairable, and Bayne had established himself as a driver to be reckoned with – and worked with – in Sunday’s Daytona 500.

“This is cool, ain’t it?” Bayne said, with a big smile on his face.

Wood agreed, saying it indeed was cool to see his family’s iconic race car back in contention for a Cup victory, even if it was in a non-points qualifying race.

“It feels really good to be a factor,” Wood said. “I hate it that we got torn up at the end, but we were a factor for the whole race, and we’ll fix this car and be ready for Sunday.”

Bayne seemed most impressed that a future Hall of Famer like Jeff Gordon would come to a rookie like him for drafting help.

“Jeff came to us and said, ‘Got a buddy?’” Bayne said. “I told him we didn’t, and he said, ‘You do now.’”

Bayne made himself much more valuable as a drafting partner by paying close attention to the first of the two Duels. He noticed that fellow Ford driver Matt Kenseth was able to maintain the pushing position for laps on end by occasionally moving to the right and thereby getting some cooling air flow to his engine.

Bayne adopted the strategy, and it worked for him too.

“You could move to the right, and the [water] temperature dropped 10 degrees in two corners,” he said.

Bayne said the only problem he had in his 150-mile qualifying race was that he and Gordon tended to be a little slow getting up to speed on restarts. And that turned out to be somewhat of a factor in the last-lap crash, which left him with a 19th-place finish after qualifying third and running as high as second place in the Duel.

“Everybody is racing like it’s the last lap of the big race, so when we got down to it we were three-wide at the end with a big run, and I think we just ran out of real estate there and [Gordon] came off the wall and got us,” Bayne said. “I hate it for all these guys because we were doing awesome, but that’s part of it.”

Wood said that while crashes are part of racing, this one was a relatively minor setback. “We’ll do some work on both sides and the nose, and we’ll be ready to go,” Wood said.

Bayne will line up 32nd for his first Daytona 500, but based on his performance on Thursday – and Jeff Gordon’s post-race comments – he won’t be there for long. “I really had a blast working with Trevor Bayne,” Gordon said. “He’s a good kid. He’s a heck of a race car driver. They’ve got a fast race car.”

Sunday’s 53rd annual Daytona 500 gets the green flag shortly after 1 p.m. with TV coverage on FOX.


Gatorade Duel 150 – Race #2, Page 2
February 17, 2011 Daytona International Speedway

TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion (Finished 19th) – YOU HAD
TO BE HAPPY WITH THE FIRST 59.5 LAPS. “Yeah, I really was. Gordon
and I worked awesome together and it was just down there at the end.
Everybody is racing like it’s the last lap of the big race, so when we
got down to it we were three-wide at the end with a big run and I
think we just ran out of real estate there and he came off the wall
and got us. That kind of stinks. I hate it for all these guys
because we were doing awesome, but that’s part of it, I guess. We
knew when we were passing those guys three-wide on the outside we were
gonna be in trouble, but that’s racing. We’ll get there.” WHAT DID
YOU LEARN? “I learned a lot. I learned how to keep it cool and when
I could duck out. We learned a lot about unplugging the other guys,
but I think it’s more the leaders – the leader kind of controls your
group. The pusher is just the engine and keeping it cool. That’s
his only duties, but also on restarts getting to him as quick as
possible, but the leader’s duties are to make sure you protect the
high side, so you don’t get unplugged – as we call it – and then
unplugging the other guys, putting his left-front on the right-rear of
the back guy and unplugging them so you can get around them. But I
think it was awesome for our first one until the very end, so I think
crazy. We were running up front and leading the race for a while.
That’s awesome for him to have that kind of faith in me to let me work
with him because that takes a lot for these guys when they’ve got 20
other guys out here that they’ve been racing with their whole life –
to say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna take a chance with this kid, let him push me
and see what we can get to.’” NOW YOU HAVE TO START FROM THE BACK.
“I think Jeff Gordon is starting in the back with us, so we’ll just
work together again and wear them out.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion (Finished 10th) – “I worked
really well with Greg and we did great. We got split up at just the
wrong time. We fell back and then the caution came out and mixed us
all up, but I feel like we’ve got something for the 500. If we work
with these other Fords, it’s gonna be really good.” DO YOU FEEL THE
THE CAR YOU’RE PUSHING? “It feels like the FR9 is working really
well. The cooling system works well and I think we’re gonna be good.
I think for the 500 it’s gonna be an all-day, whose car can last
longest, whose engine is the strongest and which drivers can work
together the best. I think that’s gonna win it and I feel like we’ve
got a good enough team to do that.”

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (Finished 15th) – “It was about
the same as the Bud Shootout. We had to split the guy in front of us a
little bit, which slows us down. It was kind of the same. Maybe it
will be a little different when we get some more cars out there. I
think when we add more cars on Sunday it will draw bigger groups
forward. We will just have to wait and see how it all turns out.” YOU
TO THE FR9 ENGINE? – “It could be the engine, or the way we have our
grille opening, although most everybody has that set the same. I don’t
know what that contributes to. I think we are definitely cooling
better. Maybe we spent more time on the engineering of it, I am not
sure. I know that it is definitely an advantage to be cooler longer,
so that is a good thing.”

This Week in Ford Racing: Special Edition – Drive to 600, the 1963 Daytona 500

​While it’s highly unlikely a team will run the entire 500 miles on only one set of tires in the 2011 Daytona 500, it has been done before and by none other than the Wood Brothers, who never changed tires and made one less pit stop than their rivals to help substitute driver Tiny Lund win the 1963 Daytona 500.

As part of its 600-win series on milestone victories in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Ford Racing looks back at one of the best stories in Daytona 500 history.
​The Daytona 500 wasn’t always the first race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.  

In NASCAR’s formative years, the schedule often started at places like Concord and Champion Speedway in North Carolina, and sometimes made a quick west coast stop at Riverside International Raceway for a road course race before landing in NASCAR’s backyard.

That was the case in 1963 when the season actually kicked off in November of 1962 with three races before taking a two month break and returning in January at Riverside.  That’s where the year kicked off in earnest and saw Dan Gurney outlast A.J. Foyt in his 1963 Ford to take the checkered flag in a 500-mile marathon.

A four-week hiatus ensued as teams prepared for the fifth running of the Daytona 500 and Marvin Panch focused on becoming the first driver to win the sport’s crown jewel event twice in a career.  He won the 500 in 1961 over Joe Weatherly, and was considered among the favorites behind the wheel of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford.
Just a few days before the 500, however, Panch was involved in a freak sports car accident on the Daytona road course.  The car, which Panch described as a Birdcage Maserati, flipped and burst into flames on the track’s east banking.
“We were down in the pits and Johnny Bruner (NASCAR official) and some of the Firestone people jumped in a station wagon.  I got in there with them and went over to help,” recalled Glen Wood.  “The whole bunch of us got the car turned back over.  Marvin was upside-down in it.  It had those clam doors on it, so they opened from the top, but there was so much pressure on it that Marvin couldn’t get the door open.   

“He was picking on it and he said he just about decided this was his last hope,” continued Wood.  “Fire was all about him and at about that time he felt it wiggle and we got the car turned back over.  Tiny Lund and Steve Petrasek of Firestone dragged him out and rolled him around on the ground and got the fire put out.  

“Naturally, he was burned so bad that he couldn’t drive our car, so we pondered different drivers,” said Wood.  “We knew Tiny was a pretty fair race driver.  He always had been tough to deal with and with him being one of the main guys that helped Marvin out of the car, it was a no-brainer to put him in there.”

Lund started the race 12th, which is where Panch qualified the car, but it didn’t take long for the Wood Brothers to develop a pit strategy that not only would help Lund stay up front throughout the day, but ultimately win the race.

“When they started the race it was raining and the track was wet,” said Wood.  “They ran about 10 laps under the caution after the green flag was dropped and then had a caution on lap 36, so we all came in and just gassed up and went back out.”

That allowed the team to figure out its mileage and they realized Lund could easily go 100 miles before stopping again, so that’s what he did.  After stopping for the second time, the Woods once again recalculated and decided they could push it two more laps.  They directed Lund to stay out for 42 laps the next two runs, which put them in an ideal situation.

“After that 36-lap caution, we wanted him to draft and save fuel,” said Leonard Wood.  “When it came down to the end of the race, we didn’t have but 40 laps to go and we knew he could make it because we had been running 42.  When Fred Lorenzen and Ned Jarrett had not made their laps up from that first caution, we knew they were gonna have to stop, so we were just waiting for it to happen.” 

Glen Wood said that even though he felt confident they were going to make it, there were some anxious moments.

“They got to talking it up on the loudspeaker and asking, ‘Can they make it?  Can they make it?’  That got us to wondering to ourselves whether we could make it or not, but we felt sure that if we got it full, Tiny could make it.  Sure enough, he pulled it off.”

​After driving into victory lane for the first time in his Grand National career, Lund was greeted by pit reporter Chris Economaki, who asked him what he was going to do with the $25,000 prize money he had just won.

​The 280-pound, 6’6” native from Iowa enthusiastically said, “Pay our bills!”

Slightly overshadowed in Lund’s storybook win was the fact Ford swept the top five positions with Lorenzen, Jarrett, Nelson Stacy and Gurney finishing second through fifth, respectively.

“That’s a Cinderella story for sure,” reiterated Leonard Wood.  “We ran the whole race on the same set of tires.  The reason we did that is we already had our pit stops worked out, but there’s always that chance of cross-threading a lug or something like that.  At that time, your lugs weren’t quite as good as we eventually got them to be, so you didn’t want to take a chance.  Plus, we wanted to make sure we kept him up in the draft, so we’d always have a quick pit stop.”
For his actions in helping rescue Panch, Lund was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Medal for heroism.  He eventually went on to win five Grand National races in his career before being killed in an accident during the Talladega 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Aug. 17, 1975.  

Story courtesy of Ford Racing

Trevor Bayne Gives Woods and Wingo Something to Celebrate After Daytona 500 Qualifying

For years, the Wood Brothers and Donnie Wingo have been friends and rejoiced in each other’s racing accomplishments.
On Sunday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway they got to celebrate together after Trevor Bayne, driving the Woods’ No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, was third fastest in qualifying for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Wingo, a long-time friend of the Woods, is now the team’s crew chief and is the person responsible for overseeing the preparation of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion.
In his post-qualifying comments, Bayne pointed out that his quick lap was the result of a lot of work by all the people who played a role in preparing his Ford Fusion.
“I can’t thank this Wood Brothers team enough and everybody at Ford Racing and Roush Yates for helping us prepare a car like this to bring here,” he said. “The winds were kind of calm, and I think this will show everybody that we’ve got an awesome race car and they can work with us in these twins coming into Thursday.” “Maybe they’ll see that and they’ll know they can help us out and we can get a good starting spot in the 500.”
For team co-owner Eddie Wood the strong qualifying effort is a sign that he and his team are making forward progress with their racing program. “We’ve qualified well at Daytona the past couple of years, and it’s gratifying to come here with a whole new program, a new crew chief and a new car and qualify third,” he said. “And it’s good to be locked into the show for the 500.”
The starting line-up won’t be determined until after Thursday’s 150-mile Gatorade Duels, but Bayne is assured of a starting spot for the Daytona 500.
In qualifying at Daytona, the driver’s main responsibility is to not make a mistake on the track, and the rookie Bayne passed that test with flying colors. The hard part is done by the crew chief and the crew, who put a winter’s worth of work into preparing the best car they can for the Great American Race. “
“Donnie and the guys did a great job,” Wood said, adding that the veteran crew chief has quickly made himself at home with the Wood family and with the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew. “It’s been really satisfying to watch him blend in with this race team,” Wood said. “We’ve been friends for years, and that just makes it all the more special to have him here.”
Bayne also is busy making himself at home, with the Wood Brothers team and with his fellow Sprint Cup drivers. He’s hoping that he can give his car a ride on Sunday that would make David Pearson proud, especially since the car’s paint scheme is in honor of Pearson’s upcoming induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Pearson drove the Woods’ cars to 43 wins and 51 poles in the 1970s. “I think we’ve got a really stout race car, and [the crew] has done an awesome job all week with it,” Bayne said.
The 150-mile Gatorade Duel qualifying races are scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. with TV coverage on SPEED.The green flag for the Daytona 500 is scheduled to fly just after 1 p.m. on Sunday Feb. 20, with TV coverage on FOX.

Rookie Bayne Confident As He Prepares For His Daytona Debut

When the Wood Brothers No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion hits the track for Daytona 500 practice on Saturday, it’ll represent both ends of the Speedweeks experience spectrum.
The Woods have been racing at Daytona in February for 61 years, since team founder Glen Wood was driving in races on the old beach-road course that preceded Daytona International Speedway.

Their current driver, rookie Trevor Bayne, has never driven a Sprint Cup car at Daytona except in two off-season test sessions.

But Bayne, who will turn 20 next Saturday, is no ordinary rookie, and therefore expectations are high for his first try at the Great American Race.

As he participated in Thursday’s Media Day rounds with reporters, Bayne came across as poised and confident, with no sign of any pre-race jitters.

“When you set your expectations and you finally get there, it doesn’t come as a surprise,” he said. “Since I was five years old I wanted to be here at this point, so now that we’re here, this is where I wanted to be.

“We belong here and I think we’re going to try to make that statement that we’re not just here to run a race, we’re here to stay….

“I think we’ve got the opportunity to do it. I’ve got all the support around me with Ford Racing and Wood Brothers and Roush on the Nationwide side, and getting double seat time this weekend. I’m really looking forward to that because I like to stay busy all the time.”

Over the years, some of NASCAR’s best drivers have come to Daytona for the first time and driven like they’d been running there for years. The late Dale Earnhardt led 10 laps and finished eighth in his first Daytona 500, back in 1979, and Jeff Gordon won his Gatorade Duel and finished fifth in the 500 his first time out, in 1993. Bayne said coming out the box in a big way is the approach he needs to take.

“I think as a race car driver that’s the mentality you have to have,” he said. “Sometimes it gets me in trouble, because I’m so worried about performance and being the fastest in practice and qualifying on the pole that you set unreal expectations and that sets you up for disappointment.

“But I think as long as we set those real expectations, kind of like we did at Texas, and you meet those expectations, you’re just going to get better and better.”

Like Earnhardt and Gordon in their Daytona debuts, Bayne has strong support behind him. In addition to the support and experience from the Woods, he’s got a veteran crew chief in Donnie Wingo and technical support from Roush Fenway Racing.

“The Wood Brothers, they’ve poured their heart and soul into this,” Bayne said. “You can see a lot of excitement going on, and they said they haven’t felt this excited going to Daytona in a long time.

“So to hear that gives me a little boost to see the confidence they already have in me after one race.”
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he has confidence in both his car and his driver.

“We’ve tested here two times, and we’ve worked on our car after each one, so we’re looking forward to getting on the track and seeing what we’ve got,” he said.

Wood also pointed out that even though the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion will sport a rookie’s yellow stripe on the rear bumper, Bayne is much more than a novice racer.

“He’s been racing since he was five years old, so by the time he takes the green flag for the 500 he’ll have 16 years of experience,” Wood said. “And he probably got 500 miles of drafting practice during the Goodyear tire test in December.”

Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is set for Sunday at 1:05 p.m. The 150-mile Gatorade Duel qualifying races are scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m., and the green flag for the Daytona 500 is scheduled to fly just after 1 p.m. on Sunday Feb. 20, with TV coverage on FOX.

Morgan Shepherd Survives Blizzard To Win Motorcraft 500; Ford Racing Celebrates 400th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Victory

Ford Racing enters the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season needing only one victory to reach 600. Over the next two weeks, leading up to the Daytona 500, Ford Racing will present a recap of the milestone wins and other tidbits that have helped shape the manufacturer’s history in the sport. This week, Ford Racing looks at the bizarre and ironic nature of Morgan Shepherd’s win that gave Ford 400 series victories.

The 1993 NASCAR season was off to a flying start as three different drivers had made their way to victory lane in the first three weeks. Dale Jarrett won the season-opening Daytona 500 while Rusty Wallace and Davey Allison came away with checkered flags at Rockingham and Richmond, respectively.
Little did anyone know that by the time the series got to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the fourth race of the season, the real winner would be Mother Nature.

The Motorcraft Quality Parts 500 was scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 14, 1993, but a blizzard that would eventually be called the ‘Storm of the Century’ pounded the Atlanta area with 6-8 inches of snow making racing impossible.

“That’s the race that was snowed out and all of us got stuck down there,” recalled Len Wood, co-owner of the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford. “We all stayed in our hotels for another two days before we could get home, and then we came back later that week and ran the race on a Saturday.”

As an estimated 82,000 fans came to the track, they were greeted by souvenir rigs that sported freshly produced t-shirts proclaiming, “I Survived the Atlanta Blizzard 500.” They got in their seats and watched Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt lead the field to the green flag.

But it was Mark Martin who laid claim to being the dominant car as he drove his No. 6 Valvoline Ford to the front. He led 140 of the first 225 laps, but that’s when his engine blew up and ended his day. That left a handful of challengers, including Morgan Shepherd, who survived the blizzard by driving home in his Ford rental car and returning a couple of days later.

“All they talked about was how fast Mark was, but our pit stops were slow. We really had the fastest car after about the halfway point, but it was like nobody knew we were that fast because I was coming from so far back,” recalled Shepherd. “When Mark blew up I was running second at the time, but I was closing in.”
Just when it looked like Shepherd was in position to take command, he had a tire go down coming off turn four and that forced him back to pit road ahead of schedule.

“We had to pit eight laps too soon,” said Shepherd. “After I took off, Eddie got on the radio and said, ‘Morgan, if there’s any way you can save gas, we need to stretch it eight laps.’ Our car was so fast that I drafted off other cars and really didn’t use much throttle. A lot of people don’t know this, but we went 110 miles, drove it into the winner’s circle, and then drove it down to the gas pumps and still didn’t run out of gas. I don’t know that anybody had ever gone 110 miles at Atlanta before, but we did.”

Another thing many people didn’t know at the time was that the Wood Brothers were getting some helpful advice from none other than the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.

“As fate would have it, Alan Kulwicki had wrecked out of the race and he was watching the race from out pits. He was standing up on a little welding box and he started talking to us about when we were planning on stopping,” said Len Wood. “We told we were planning on not stopping and he said, ‘Well, you can’t make it.’ So a little bit later he came running over in almost a panic and said, ‘Hey, if you can make it, you need to start backing him off right now.’ So we started backing Morgan off a little bit earlier than we anticipated and we ended up making it on fuel.”

Shepherd, who was 51 years old at the time, took the lead with 12 laps to go and cruised across the finish line to win the fourth and final race of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career and it was by a whopping margin of 23.50 seconds. Ironically, three of Shepherd’s wins came at AMS.

“There are some things in life that you just can’t explain and this falls into that category,” said Shepherd. “Atlanta wasn’t my favorite race track. Darlington was my favorite race track and while I always ran good there, I never won. Most people would think I’d say Atlanta because I had three wins, but it just always seemed to work out that our car was very fast. I won there three times with three totally different setups.

“It was just an honor driving for the Wood Brothers. I’ve driven for several top teams and they were like real family. They treated everybody that way,” continued Shepherd. “When people came to their shop, the atmosphere and the way they treated you was different from any other race team. When they took you in, if they liked you, you were family. That’s the way it was and that’s the way it still is because they still treat me like family to this day.”

Sadly, Kulwicki’s gas-mileage assist was quickly forgotten because just a couple of weeks later he was killed in an accident when the plane he was traveling in crashed en route to Tri-Cities Regional Airport near Bristol Motor Speedway.

“He was there helping us one week in Atlanta, and then he had his plane accident on April 1,” said Len Wood, who said the team has a picture of Kulwicki standing on that welding box in his Hooters jacket currently hanging in the team’s racing museum in Stuart, Va.

The Wood Brothers have 97 all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins with 16 different drivers. David Pearson ranks first on the team list with 43 wins followed by Cale Yarborough, 13; Neil Bonnett, 9; Marvin Panch, 8; A.J. Foyt, 5; Glen Wood and Dan Gurney, 4; Speedy Thompson and Kyle Petty, 2; Donnie Allison, Curtis Turner, Tiny Lund, Buddy Baker, Dale Jarrett, Morgan Shepherd and Elliott Sadler, 1.

Courtesy of Ford Racing