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May 19, 2014 - 06:14 PM
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Wood Brothers At Charlotte
Posted by: newsla on May 19, 2014 - 06:10 PM
Wood Brothers At Charlotte

When Trevor Bayne straps himself into the iconic Wood Brothers No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, he will be trying to re-claim the glory that once was for the Woods at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.


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The team’s history in North Carolina dates back to 1957, includes a run of dominance in the 1970s unmatched in racing and a milestone race last year.

"The Wood Brothers have so much history everywhere that it doesn’t really add any more pressure onto any certain track," said Bayne. "Charlotte’s always a special place that tends to add a little more pressure just because you know that everybody from the race shop is going to be there that weekend. So it makes you want to put on a good show for the hometown crowd. It’s definitely a special race."

The Wood Brothers visited victory lane at the old Charlotte track for the first time in 1957 when family patriarch Glen Wood won a NASCAR Convertible Series race there in a Ford.

"Our dad (Glen) and uncle (Leonard), got their first superspeedway win at Charlotte in the fall of 1960 (National 500), which is actually the second race ever run at the new track," recalls current team co-owner Eddie Wood. "The driver was a man named Speedy Thompson in a 1960 Ford."

Marvin Panch won the pole in a Ford for the Wood Brothers at the 1963 National 400 en route to a 3rd place finish.

Cale Yarborough drove a Wood Brothers Ford to poles in both the 1967 World 600 and the 1967 National 500. Yarborough also won the pole in a Wood Brothers Mercury at the 1969 National 500.

In the 1972 National 500, the Wood Brothers fielded the Mercury-driving Hall of Fame team of David Pearson and A.J. Foyt. Pearson won the pole.

"They started first and third, with Pearson first and A.J. third," remembers Len Wood, the team’s other co-owner. "Pearson had a fan belt come off and got a lap or two down. He passed A.J. toward the end of the race and they finished third and fourth.

"That was a huge effort for us because we only had one crew so they couldn’t pit at the same time," said Len. "Whoever was out front got to pit first."

Pearson’s pole in the 1972 National 500 started an incredible streak of 14 poles for Wood Brothers Mercurys driven by Pearson (12) and Neil Bonnett (2) at Charlotte from 1972-1979.

Included in that period of Wood Brothers and Mercury dominance were Pearson wins in the 1974 Word 600 and 1974 National 500, besting Richard Petty in the fall race.

"We raced Richard Petty all day, which in those years you did every week," Eddie said. "You had to beat Richard Petty. You had to beat Junior Johnson’s car and Bud Moore’s car. That particular day, Richard’s was the car we had to outrun."

The Pearson and the Wood Brothers also outran Petty in the 1976 World 600 during a triple-crown season. In those days, the triple crown consisted of the Daytona 500, the World 600 and the Southern 500.

Bonnett won the pole at the 1981 World 600 then won the 1982 race.

"That (1982) was a really big race," Eddie recalls. "We beat Bill Elliott early in Bill’s career when he was just making a name for himself."

A year later, with Buddy Baker at the helm, the Wood Brothers again captured the World 600 pole.

The team raced to victory lane in Charlotte most recently in 1987 when Kyle Petty took the checkered flag in the (renamed in 1985) Coca-Cola 600. Richard Petty was fourth.

"When Kyle won, Morgan Shepherd was second and we had a lap on him, which was pretty big back then," Len said. "That was a huge win."

Eddie added, "A lot of people thought a Petty driving for the Woods would never work. There was so much of a rivalry between us in the 60s, 70s and 80s. It was unheard of, but it was one of the best relationships we ever had."

Last year’s Coca-Cola 600 was the Wood Brothers’ milestone 1,400th start in a race at the highest echelon of NASCAR competition.

"That was really special to have it there because we’ve had a lot of success at Charlotte," Eddie said.

The Coca-Cola 600 remains an important race on the Wood Brothers limited schedule.

"Our shop is only five minutes from the speedway," said Eddie. "Our home, where we grew up in Virginia, is only a couple of hours away so Charlotte has always been special to us."

For live updates, follow the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team on Twitter (MQL_Racing) and Facebook (click on the "Twitter" icon).

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