Over so many years it remains what it has always been – a family operation. Oh, it’s changed over the years but it remains true to itself. There have been no partners, no private investors or investment firms.
As it has for the past few seasons, in an effort to get the most out of performance and sponsorship, it will race on a limited schedule out of its shops in Harrisburg, N.C., with veteran driver and 1988 champion Bill Elliott wheeling its Fords.
The Wood Brothers team is one of the last vestiges of the way NASCAR used to be. In the distant past, most teams were family-owned. Racing was the only business. Income was almost entirely acquired through competition and not, say, selling cars.
When Glen and Leonard Wood began competing in 1953 with two races in which Glen drove, it’s unlikely they had any idea their fledgling team would remain intact for nearly six decades.
Through the years it has gained more than its share of glory.
In the 1960s and ‘70s, the Woods had one of the most successful stock car racing teams in history.
With drivers such as Marvin Panch, Cale Yarborough, Donnie Allison, A.J. Foyt and David Pearson, the Woods became synonymous with victory and innovation.
The team never bothered to compete for a championship. Instead it ran only the superspeedways – which paid the biggest purses – with a few exceptions.
It was acknowledged as the best on the big tracks. For example, Pearson won 11 of 18 races in 1973, seven of 19 in 1974 and 10 of 22 in 1976.
Even with the onslaught of multicar organizations that eventually became the new NASCAR powerhouses, the Woods chose to field a single car out of their shops in the hamlet of Stuart, Va.
The Woods ran the full schedule for the first time in 1985. From that year through 2007, the last season in which they competed in all the races, they earned only five victories and didn’t get a whiff at the championship.
The Woods, now under the guidance of Glen’s sons Eddie and Len, made changes – perhaps not so much to excel rather to survive.
The team relocated to Harrisburg and has a technical relationship with the Roush Yates engine enterprise. As said, it will continue to compete on a limited schedule comprised mainly of superspeedways.
Eddie Wood has explained that competing on a limited schedule has it advantages. The team has the ability to make the most of the revenue it has. It has more time to test and prepare for races, which gives it a better opportunity to put the best possible product on the track.
It’s been said that the team remains only a shadow of what it had once been.
That may be, for now, but here’s another way to look at Wood Brothers Racing.
It remains a family-owned, one-car entity. It has never been part of a merger that put others in positions of authority, a sale to another party, an auction or bankruptcy.
It is a pillar of NASCAR’s past; of what it meant to be successful in an era where it was simply team against team and not multicar corporation against multicar corporation.
Today there’s not another organization in NASCAR that can match all of that.
The Woods stand alone.