|Wood Brothers Racing team rejoices in HOF election|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 17 June 2011 21:09|
The Wood Brothers had not been to Victory Lane in almost a decade, and despite 97 previous wins, Glen Wood had forgotten the drill. It was Richard Petty who saw the 85-year-old team owner seemingly alone on pit road, threw his arm around him, and led him to the winner's circle.
That moment from Bayne's season-opening win was mentioned Tuesday in the voting room for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The panel had come to Wood's name on the list of nominees, and it quickly became evident that voters were reluctant to select him because he was not linked on the ballot to his brother, Leonard.
It was Kyle Petty, who won two races in four years driving for the Wood Brothers, who insisted the voters not only could, but should, give Glen Wood individual consideration.
``I made a case for separation, because I think they are two different people,'' Kyle Petty said. ``I think Leonard is the smartest man I ever met that works on a race car, bumper to bumper. There are some guys out there that are good strategists and good mechanics, but he is the total package and always has been.
``But Glen owned the thing. He owned the team. You have to make that separation. To put them in and judge them as a single entity against some other people was not right.''
Kyle Petty's passionate argument was apparently enough to sway some voters. Glen Wood was the fifth and final nominee elected Tuesday to enter the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the third class. His brother, Leonard, will have to wait.
While some thought splitting the two was a travesty, Leonard Wood was just fine with the way the vote went.
``I wouldn't have it any other way,'' Leonard Wood said after the announcement. ``I thought if one of us got in, I was hoping it would be him. Of course, when one wins, the other one wins. We both feel that way. We always did things together. I was the mechanical end of it and he was the business end of it. He worked on the cars, too. We made a great combination.''
Glen Wood formed Wood Brothers Racing in 1950. Sons Eddie and Len currently run the day-to-day operations of the race team. When their father's name was announced for the Hall of Fame, they were so overcome with emotion, neither could speak.
By Friday, the news had sunk in more, but the significance was still a bit overwhelming when the two arrived at Michigan International Speedway, where Bayne is set to race this weekend in the Woods' No. 21 Ford.
``It gets even bigger,'' Eddie Wood said. ``Once you get to the racetrack and you see all your friends and people that come up to you and want to talk about it, and are talking about it.''
Glenn Wood will be inducted in January.
``To be honest with you, it was bigger than winning the Daytona 500,'' Len Wood said. ``The Daytona 500 - don't get me wrong, we worked for weeks - but that was what happened on one day. This is more, for daddy, kind of like a lifetime of achievements that's kind of now recognized.''
Glenn Wood seemed stoic, quavering only once, when asked what it was like to hear his name announced.
``It was unbelievable,'' he said. ``I just didn't expect it. Maybe sometime in the next 25 years or something. I did not expect it this soon. Maybe the Daytona 500 had something to do with it. It helped to be a part of our accomplishments.''
Maybe it was Bayne, the fresh-faced 21-year-old winner of NASCAR's biggest race, who helped the Wood Brothers get their name circulating again after so many lean years. The team operated for so long as a single-car operation in Stuart, Va., refusing to leave home for the NASCAR hub in Charlotte, N.C. But when they no longer could see the light at the end of the tunnel, the team finally moved before the 2004 season.
It's now run as a satellite team to Roush Fenway Racing, a far cry from when David Pearson dominated NASCAR in the No. 21 Ford. The team had gone from the very top of NASCAR, endured a lean stretch, and hit rock bottom in 2008 when it stopped running a full schedule.
But this has been a year of celebration for the entire organization.
Pearson was inducted into the Hall of Fame last month, and the team unveiled a throwback paint scheme this season to commemorate Pearson's honor. Bayne won the Daytona 500 in that special paint scheme.
Now Bayne is in Michigan, which is always a noteworthy stop for the team because of its longtime alliance with Ford.
``Sixty-one years and counting,'' Eddie Wood said. ``To me, that's part of the Hall of Fame, also. Without Ford Motor Company, we wouldn't be here, and dad wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.''