Category Archives: blog

50th Anniversary of 1965 Indianapolis 500

It’s is Charlotte race week and normally Leonard Wood would be heading to the speedway tonight but this weekend is different. This weekend marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Indianapolis 500, when the Wood Brothers helped send Jim Clark to Victory Lane. Instead of being at Charlotte this weekend, Leonard will be heading to Indianapolis to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the the race where they pitted for Jim Clark at the Indianapolis 500. The weekend is full of autograph signings and events that will celebrate the 1965 win. In the video below, Leonard gives us a brief description of the 1965 Indianapolis 500.

If you have never heard the story about this race, here are a couple of great articles that Bruce Martin from FOX Sports wrote. Check out both of these!!

http://www.foxsports.com/motor/story/leonard-wood-reflects-on-1965-indy-500-victory-with-jim-clark-052015

http://www.foxsports.com/motor/story/leonard-wood-built-a-stunning-replica-of-the-1965-indy-500-winning-car-052015

What Memorial Day Means to Me

This weekend is a time to do things.  Memorial Day is a holiday and the weekend is marked by various outdoor activities around the country.  It’s usually spent having cookouts, watching the Indy 500 and Coke 600, some go to the beach, some do-this some do-that, point being there is usually something we are “doing.”  While I will be spending a good portion of my weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway and “doing” what I do, part of me will make a conscious effort to remember what the holiday is actually about. It’s about remembering the sacrificial efforts of some extremely brave men and women that will forever be remembered as heroes.  Those are the very same men and women that paid the ultimate price so that we, as Americans, can enjoy this holiday doing whatever we want.  It’s a twisted thing to think of.  Now, throw in the mix that one of the nicest, kindest, most thoughtful people you ever knew is one of these brave souls lost in the fight and it changes things a little.  It makes it less about being a three-day weekend and more about a memorial to this person.  For those reasons, during this Memorial Day weekend, I will be remembering childhood friend Cpl. Jonathan Bowling, killed on January 26th, 2005, in the Al Anbra Province of Iraq.

When we are little, we learn names and they stick like glue, never being forgotten.  I grew up in Stuart, Virginia and went to a fairly small elementary school.  It was uncommon for two or more of us to share the same name, yet here we were, in the same class with the same first name.  At the beginning of each school year Jon and I would be renamed, he being Jon B. and I being Jon W. and it remained that way until we hit high school, venturing into a much larger pond.  So, for simplicity sake and the sake of how I remember him, from here on I’m referring to him the way I remember, Jon B.

Tragic events have a very peculiar effect on our minds.  It’s as if the more tragic the event, the stronger the “burn-in” it has on our brains.  For instance, on the morning of 9/11, I remember exactly where I was standing, exactly what I was doing and exactly what I was thinking.  On the afternoon that I found out about Jon B., I remember exactly where I was standing, exactly what I was doing and exactly what I was thinking.   I remember the absolute horror on my mom and sister’s faces (they were at my apartment at the time) and I don’t think that image will ever go away.  There is no doubt his death had a much more profound effect on them, as my sister and his twin sisters Brooke and Ashley were BFF all through school and have remained very close even to this day.  It was just a bad day, period.  It was bad because Jon B. was the type of person you just can’t say a bad word about, even if you tried.  It’s funny how in death, oftentimes the memory of a person has a balance of good and bad and we see these bad things as just part of growing up and laugh them off.  In his case; however, there was no bad, he was just an all-around good guy.  He was everything you would want in a son, a brother and a friend.  I feel very strongly that boys are molded from the image of their father and Jon B. was no exception to this rule.  He became a police officer just like his father Darrell, and someone like that you just have to respect at the highest level.  As a Marine, a fire fighter and a city policeman, it was abundantly clear he was devoting his life to being put in harms way, only to help others.  One doesn’t participate in one of those jobs for the glamour or glory, and for him to have been all three, again I don’t have to break into song to get my point across that he was extremely selfless at his core.

For this weekend, NASCAR has cooked up a really cool tribute to the fallen heroes from across the Nation.  In a nutshell, each team pays homage to one particular member of the Armed Forces that has fallen in service.  It’s only suiting that we (Wood Brothers) will honor Jon B. and it’s a great thing that’s happening.  His family will be in attendance and it’s just a wonderful way to let them know what a fine young man they raised and how much we appreciate him.  I want to; in my own words, let his family know that it doesn’t take a special program for me to recognize what a true gift he was to everyone that knew him.  It’s crazy how in recent years, NASCAR drivers have acquired this –larger than life- aura about them, heroic in a weird way, especially to the younger and more impressionable audience.  I certainly don’t want to take away from that or indicate that they should believe otherwise, but in my mind, the true hero here is the boy (young man) that woke up every morning in a hot, dusty, remote, foreign and undeniably HELLISH place.  The boy that woke up, threw his gun over his shoulder, put on a brave face and went out to work in a place that makes any office space we can think of seem more like a fun park.  I would be lying if I said it doesn’t give me chills just thinking about what this man and his fellow soldiers endured day in and day out, so that we were able to carry on with our everyday lives and enjoy things like NASCAR races and have favorite larger-than-life-seeming racecar drivers.  Jon B. is the person I think of during Memorial Day weekend, for reasons far more in number than I can list.  I think of him and I think of his family.  Darrell and Robin raised a one-of-a-kind son and Brook and Ashley had a one-of-a-kind brother.  So…. All that being said, this weekend’s for you Cpl. Jonathan Bowling, Darrell and Robin’s son, Brooke and Ashley’s brother, Jon B. to his classmates, and hero to everyone that knew him.

~ Jon W.

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Through the Years, Bernece Wood Has Kept Her Famous Racing Family Close

IMG_1805Bernece Wood grew up the daughter of a country storekeeper from Charity, Va., married a sawmiller from Buffalo Ridge and wound up the matriarch of one of NASCAR’s cornerstone race teams.

Mrs. Wood is one of only three people on the Wood Brothers team roster who have been there from the beginning in 1950. The others are her husband, NASCAR Hall of Fame member Glen Wood, and his brother, NASCAR Hall of Fame member, the team’s long-time chief mechanic, Leonard Wood.

Mrs. Wood has seen the team grow from a fledgling outfit run by her husband and his brothers, Leonard, Delano, Ray Lee and the late Clay Wood,  to one managed by her sons Len and Eddie and her daughter Kim Wood Hall.

Through it all, even with all the demands that come with racing in NASCAR’s elite division, the Woods have remained a close-knit bunch, and much of the credit for that goes to the matriarch.

That’s never more evident than at dinnertime in Stuart. For decades, when the Woods raced out of a shop in Stuart, Bernece’s husband and children ate the noon meal at her table. The team, now based in Charlotte, is running a limited schedule again, and the family dinners are fairly regular again. In the summertime, there are peas, potatoes, beans, corn and tomatoes grown in Glen’s garden just down the road.

It’s like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting, but it’s an everyday occurrence for the Woods.

“We never knew any other way,” daughter Kim Hall said. “That’s how it’s always been.”

The family meals also serve as informal business meetings.

“Whenever you had news or something to tell, you told it when everybody was together,” she said, adding that no one dared be late or they might miss something important.

There are other reasons to be punctual.

“If you get there five minutes late, your drink has been poured for five minutes, and if you’re five minutes early, the cornbread’s still in the oven,” she said.

It’s not just the noon meal that Bernece Wood and her family, including daughters-in-law, a son-in-law and grandchildren and now great-grandchildren, eat together. Sometimes it’s breakfast; other times it’s a cookout on Eddie’s patio.

“Still to this day, we eat most of our meals together,” Hall said.

When Bernece Wood isn’t actually with her family, she’s usually talking about them to visitors at the Wood Brothers Museum in Stuart.

“She loves nothing more than to be at that museum talking about her family.”

Mrs. Wood also loves to share with visitors her knowledge of the team’s 65 years in racing. She can identify the faces in decades-old photos, and she’s pretty savvy about the cars too.

“She can tell a ’58 Ford from a ’59 Ford, and I can’t do that,” Hall said.  “She’s the perfect person to be at the museum.”

One of Bernece Wood’s favorite subjects is her team’s victory in the 2011 Daytona 500.

It was a special win for Mrs. Wood for many reasons, including the fact that the race team run by her children bounced back from several disappointing seasons to score a major victory.  It was one that came the old-fashioned way, not because of gas mileage or some other fluke.

Still, Bernece Wood didn’t dash to Victory Lane that Sunday afternoon.

“She stayed behind at the hauler and greeted everybody that came by there,” Hall said.

That wasn’t a surprise to those who know Bernece Wood.

Whether it’s at her dinner table or behind the counter at the museum in Stuart or at the hauler in Daytona after her team won the Daytona 500, Bernece Wood has stood rock solid behind her family and their race team.

The Wood Brothers race team, as well as the entire NASCAR industry, has persevered for decades, and the ladies behind the scenes deserve much of the credit.

The Sprint Cup cars will be idle this Sunday for Mother’s Day, as they have been for years and likely always will be.

If there was ever a sport or an industry that owed a debt to the mothers behind the scenes, it’s NASCAR.

Happy Mother’s Day to Bernece Wood and all the other racing moms out there.

Vote For Our Local Hero, Jared Weiland

Last week I asked everyone to vote for our dear friend, Jared Weiland, in a contest to win a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.  I wrote a short post on Facebook, asking our fan’s to help by voting for him. However, a short post on Facebook was not enough to describe what Jared means to our family and the entire Patrick County community. Truth is, it is impossible to put into words the inspiration and light that Jared brings to us all.

I first want to explain the contest because it is for a great cause and one that I feel needs more attention.  Jared is featured in the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Associations Local Hero contest, in which four wheelchair accessible vehicles will be awarded to the winners. This contest is part of National Mobility Awareness Month and is geared to recognize the perseverance of those living with physical challenges and increase awareness of solutions to increase independence.  The top 10% of vote earners will advance to the second round of the contest which will be judged by a panel of mobility specialists. The winners will then be selected based on their efforts to make the most of their lives in a positive and uplifting way and their need for an adaptive vehicle.  Voters can vote once a day for their local hero! Now, the most important part of my blog post, the reason why Jared Weiland is our local hero.

Jared is a very very close friend of mine and has been since high school. Our senior year of high school, Jared suffered a stroke that was caused from an AVM.  This immediately changed his life and his family’s life forever. His full story is posted here http://www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com/entrant/jared-weiland-stuart-va/ .  I encourage everyone to watch the quick video that helps tell the story of this unbelievably strong and inspirational man.

I do not want this post to be out me but I wanted to share with you what Jared means to me, in hopes that you will see how deserving he is to be the winner of this contest. I remembering sitting at the lunch table with Jared the day he had to stroke, hours before it occurred. I also remember hearing that something had happened to him and the many nights after, waiting by the phone with friends to hear updates on how he was doing. But what I remember most are the months and years after the stroke, the inspiration and strength that Jared has shown me and all of our friends. All our life’s have changed tremendously since then but one thing has stayed consistent, Jared Weiland is still one of our best friends.  Jared has always had an outgoing, yet some-times sarcastic ;), loving personality and he makes us all better just by being present in a room.

Did I mention that he is a major Wood Brothers fan? I am sure many of you will argue his position as #1 Wood Brothers fan but he will put up a good fight for that spot! As soon as the checkered flag waved at Talladega this past weekend, my phone was ringing and it was Jared calling to tell me Congrats on the good finish. Jared has been one of the first ones in line to attend all of the events at Wood Brothers Racing Museum. From the 2011 Daytona 500 autograph session, to less grandiose events such as the Wood Brothers street dedication, the viewing of the 2011 Daytona 500 car and other open house events, Jared has been present in his 21 gear. The difference in Jared’s attendance in comparison to our other dedicated fans is Jared is always in a wheelchair.  Jared Weiland is more than a best friend to me, he is my hero and I plan to vote for him every day to win this contest!

Help him win by voting here once a day! For an extra vote, answer the “Extra Vote” question correctly and then place your vote!

VOTE HERE!

http://www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com/entrant/jared-weiland-stuart-va/

~ Jordan

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Wood Brothers Racing Museum Feature – Driver Uniform Displays

Today’s museum feature is on a couple of the driver uniform displays. At Wood Brothers Racing, we consider our employees like family and that includes all of our drivers. In order to honor some of our drivers, Len and Eddie gathered old driver uniforms and artifacts and placed them in cases at the museum.

In the video below, Len Wood describes a couple of our driver uniform displays, including Neil Bonnett’s and Kyle Petty’s.

 

Lessons with Leonard Wood – RC Lawn Mower

We are back with a ridiculously, amazing Leonard Wood invention! Ever heard the saying, “boys and their toys”, well here is a perfect example! It is a well-known fact that “boys” love everything remote control. Leonard Wood has this same love and he decided to build his own remote control lawn mower. Yes, you heard me correctly. A lawn mower that he can control from one-eighth of a mile away!

Check out this video, Leonard goes into detail about his remote control creation!!

Martinsville Weekend at the Wood Brothers Museum

First of all, I apologize for the lack of blog post recently. Life has been pretty crazy at my house with the west coast swing but I promise I will get back to regular blog post soon! Thankfully, Martinsville was this past weekend and that means a nice long weekend in Stuart, VA for my family. The 21 team was not racing at Martinsville but the Wood family stayed busy entertaining guest at the Wood Brothers Museum. Every year, the family looks forward to the Martinsville races because of all the wonderful NASCAR fans that come by to visit and see the Museum. Eddie, Len, Glen, Kim and Bernece are usually hanging around the museum and love to share stories and help with the tours. This year, visitors came from across the country! We had a visitors from many states, including Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska and Canada. A couple special guest were Bill and Cindy Elliott and Mike Joy and his son.

The next Martinsville race is November 1st, 2015. If you are planning to go to the race, make sure to pencil in a stop to the Museum, you will not be disappointed. The hours for a race weekend are usually M-F from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm and Saturday from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.

~ Jordan

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Wood Family Vegas Vacation

Viva Las Vegas! I know it is a little late but I thought I would share some fun stories from our Vegas trip a couple weeks ago. As most of you know, the NASCAR schedule does not have many off weekends and goes from February to November. The schedule is hectic and does not provide for many “family vacations” but my family would not have it any other way.

From as far back as I can remember, if a race location provided any type of family entertainment, you better believe that my whole family would load up and travel with my dad. Traveling was our life and I loved every minute of going to the races when I was younger.

I am sure that many people thought my brother and I were crazy to take our children to Las Vegas. After all it is known as “Sin City” and not as “Baby City”. However, Vegas has a lot of fun things for children and adults that is not part of the “Sin City”. Pictures are always better than long descriptions so I thought I would just share our Vegas adventures thru a few photos.

Shark Aquarium

Shark Aquarium

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Lessons with Leonard Wood – The Backseater

The Backseater is another one of the Wood Brother’s famous innovations. Back in the old Modified days, rules were much more liberal than today. By moving the engine rearward in the car, the teams could get more rear grip and thus more acceleration off the corners. In order to gain a competitive advantage, Glen Wood and his brother Leonard kept moving the engine back in their 1937 Ford until the driver was sitting in the back seat of the car.

A replica of the back seat racer is at the Wood Brothers Racing Museum in Stuart, Va. In the video below, Leonard Wood gives a brief description of the racer!

Wood Brothers Racing Museum Feature – Trophy Display

This week’s museum feature is about some of the older trophies that are on display. With 98 wins, the Wood Brothers have collected many trophies over the years and several of these are in display cases for our fans to view. There are trophies that date back to the1950’s when Glen Wood raced on the beach and at Bowman Gray Stadium. One of my favorites is a qualifying trophy from 1956 that was made into a lamp. One may ask, why was the trophy made into a lamp? Two little boys, by the name of Eddie and Len Wood, kept breaking the trophies. In order to prevent this, Ray Lee Wood, turned the trophy into a lamp. Pretty creative!

Len Wood describes the trophy display in the video below.