Hey all! My latest post is up on NASCAR Ranting and Raving. It is my first biography of a person instead of a track history, so be nice!
I’m trying to share a little bit about one of my favorite NASCAR personalities, Smokey Yunick. I hope you enjoy it!

Smokey Yunick: The Best Damn Mechanic NASCAR Didn’t Nominate For The HoF http://sbnation.com/e/1334593

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Originally published April 28th at NASCAR Ranting & Raving  http://www.4ever3blog.com/2010/4/29/1449943/the-wood-brothers-of-virginia

Twice a year NASCAR stops at one of the few short tracks on our circuit. Richmond International Raceway is a ¾ mile track set on top of what used to be a half mile dirt track at the Virginia State Fairgrounds. Rather than delve into the history of the track today, I thought that we would stop over and visit one of the most famous families in racing who are from just down the road in Stuart, Virginia.

The Wood Brothers still field the number 21 Ford, driven by Awesome Bill from Dawsonville Elliot (one of my personal favorite drivers and a gentleman who always smiles if I holler “Hey Awesome Bill!” when I see him in the garages.).  Glen and Leonard Wood changed the way stock car races were run and more importantly how they were won. The modern pit stop is the direct result of the Wood Brothers teams. Pit stops, while never leisurely, drivers often would turn their cars off and take a stretch. It was a smoke em if you got em kind of break, while the pit crew screwed off and on the gas caps; raised and lowered the car with hand pump jacks and attended to whatever adjustments needed to take place. We all know how distressing it is when our driver is stuck in the pits for more than fifteen seconds. Can you imagine if he climbed out for a smoke break!? It was the racing smarts of Glen and Leonard Wood that made pit road what it is today.

The Wood Brothers have been involved in stock car racing since 1950. Glen Wood entered into his first NASCAR Grand National race in 1953. He took home the burned up shell of his car, he never even made it through the first heat. But from that small step, Glen Wood became one of the most well known drivers in NASCAR. Glen finished 3rd in his second race and things got better from there. He even took home the Most Popular Driver award in 1959. His younger brother, Leonard, was always in the pits when Glen was racing. When Glen retired after fifteen years of racing, the Wood Brothers team was a well respected and admired racing team. The list of drivers who stepped into their Fords is awesome, a collection of legends in NASCAR that no other team can boast. Curtis Turner, Tiny Lund, Junior Johnson, Joe Weatherly, Banjo Matthews, AJ Foyt, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, and Bill Elliot to name only a few.  The Wood Brothers have always raced Fords, by the way. The Wood Brothers maintain an admirable manufacturers’ loyalty that few do any longer.

The Wood brothers took the time to notice that it mattered how long a driver took on pit road and began to work at reducing the total amount of time that their driver spent there. Glen credits Leonard’s engineering skills as the foundation for the innovation and design for improving the equipment used by the team. He worked with Ingersoll-Rand to develop the pneumatic air-guns which even today wrench the lug nuts off the cars like lightening. He also developed the pneumatic jack which reduced the ten to fifteen pumps on a store bought jack to one or two. With Leonard’s upgrades to the equipment used in the pit and a precisely developed choreography to the actual pit stop, the Wood brothers brought the total time for a pit stop to a sharp 20 seconds. Their methods even impressed the high-tone open wheel crowd. They were hired to run the pit for Jimmy Clark in 1965 for the Indianapolis 500. He won simply because he was in and out of the pits faster than anyone else in the race.

Glen was nominated to, but will not be inducted with the first class of the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. I think that he belongs there, but don’t get me started on who I would have voted for! There will be lots of years to get to all the folks who belong. However, the Wood Brothers have been recognized elsewhere. They are listed in the Motorsports Hall of Fame and Glen is listed as one of the 50 Greatest Drivers among other accolades. The Wood Brother’s Fords have been to victory lane at the Daytona 500 four separate times. They have won 96 races as a team and have been on the pole 116 times. In 1976, the Wood Brothers took home the triple crown of NASCAR, winning the Daytona 500, the World 600 and the Southern 500 with David Pearson behind the wheel.

If you are in Virginia, you absolutely must stop by the Wood Brothers Museum. The museum is in Stuart, not far from the North Carolina state line. Not only is the drive breathtaking, the shop is so full of amazing things, it will knock your socks off. I am not kidding. It has got to be the best racing museum out there. Not only that, but everyone is as nice as you would expect a family who has been in racing for 60 years to be.

http://woodbrothersracing.com/

PS. I have pics of the inside of the museum somewhere around here! I will have to check my archives and post. In the mean time, shall we take a peek at what a pit stop looks like? Also, I’m not the greatest videographer, but I try!

But since today, the NASCAR Hall of Fame inducted their first class today that it was fitting that I should share my first interview.

I was nervous as all get out. But phew. I don’t sound too awful!

http://webtalkradio.net/shows/the-pop-culture-road-trip/

Also. If you did not spend the better part of today watching the Induction ceremonies for the Hall of Fame, it is well worth your time.

Hi!

I have been invited to post over at a fantastic site called NASCAR Ranting and Raving. I’ll be posting there every Wednesday. Just little tidbits of NASCAR history. Come visit! There are lots of great writers over there!

I’ve been a bit lax over here, but I am trying to get my self put together for the NAASH Conference at the end of May. It is pretty cool. I will be in a session called “Wheels: On and Behind”  There are three other speakers. One person is speaking about the regulation of racing, though I don’t know if he will be looking at open wheel or stock car. One gal is speaking about a female racer by the name of Joan Newton Cuneo and the other  fellow is speaking about bicycle racers.

Pretty nifty, I think.

🙂

I have been accepted to speak at my first conference. I am excited beyond explaining in my little blog here. Well, excited and of course terrified! Whatever will I say!?

Ah. Of course I do know what I will be saying. Not exactly, but I do intend to do my best- with a short presentation and a lovely power point- to let them all know how important the history of stock car racing is to American history.

The conference is in May. It will be held at the very nice looking Disney World Coronado Springs Resort. On the fun side, apparently there is a free shuttle between the conference and Disney World.

I am really looking forward to it. I need to revisit my proposal for the conference and begin to develop a lovely and concise presentation.

****

In other news! It is almost time for the Daytona 500! How excited am I for that? So excited.

I will be spending a lot of time at the ISC Archives. I am looking froward to that for the sheer number of people who come through there. It is walking history every minute. And I will be attending the Living Legends of Auto Racing Banquet again this year. I enjoyed my time there last year so very much. Unbelievable to sit at a table with men who were there when NASCAR was still ripping it’s way through the sandy turns instead of cookie cutter tracks. Pictures and updates coming- I’ll be there from next Tuesday through Monday the 16th.

I will also be posting over at SkirtsAndSkuffs which you should definitely check out if you haven’t yet. Even more gals writing about racing. We’re quite the bunch.

I was very excited, as one might guess, to learn that the History Channel was going to air a documentary (docu-drama) on Bowman-Gray Stadium. The advertising for the show before it aired, boasted that 61 years of tempers and hard racing made Bowman-Gray part of the “holy land” of racing. And it does. And it is the oldest sanctioned track. The stories, the rivalries and the feuds which are a part of the track can be traced back through the history of stock car racing in North Carolina..

Which they totally and utterly ignore.

Madhouse completely disregards any history that the track represents and instead focuses on the lives of two racers and their bitter rivalry. Which is fine. Except that it is the History channel. I don’t think that I could be anymore disappointed in the series.  Rather than focus on a part of America that is still stereotyped and exploring the contributions of stock car racing to American history and rather than celebrating a real American institution (61 years is not that far off from 100 years of stock car racing!) the program focuses on what can only be perceived from the outside as a whole bunch of rednecks.

Stock car racing is a passionate, intense sport. And yes, there is the cultural element that most people negatively stereotype as rednecks. But you know, all these elements can be explored in such a way which actually examines what makes stock car racing exciting and what makes such a unique and important part of American culture.

The second episode is tonight. I will catch it on the second roll through at 11. I wish that I could say that I was excited to see it. Other than the racing clips which feed my need for the racing season to start up again, there is very little that Madhouse can offer.

The very last race of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was a historic day. We are a lucky bunch; the history of NASCAR is always around us, and today was truly momentous.

Richard Petty, one of the greatest drivers ever, can still be seen at every race. His unmistakable form reminds us that our history is still very much alive and present. We race at a track that featured races the very first season NASCAR ever waved a green flag. We still race at the first paved oval in the series. Sure. The drivers all strap into the Car of Tomorrow for every race. And the Cup Banquet has been moved to flashy (and fun) Las Vegas.

But the roots of this sport run deep, no matter how many extra layers of concrete are added over them. We should always take a moment to remember the drivers, crew chiefs and people who have made NASCAR what it is today. So though my focus is on the history of NASCAR’s race tracks, for this column, I wanted to take a moment and congratulate Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knauss, and the whole 48 Team for truly making a mark in the history of NASCAR. Johnson deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest racers in NASCAR. And, if I’m not mistaken, Knauss deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with a certain ingenious and car builder by the name of Smokey Yunick.