For the Wood brothers of Stuart, VA, the circle is now unbroken.
When Leonard Wood, master mechanic and pit-road wizard, was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Wednesday, he joined – a year later – his older brother Glen in NASCAR’s most exclusive company. Leonard’s induction will be next February, but the die is cast – the Wood brothers are together again, as they have been since the very beginning.
“To have both of them in now, it’s like it’s complete,” said Eddie Wood, Glen’s son, Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “They were together. Whatever has been accomplished, they did it together.
“Through the years, that’s the way it’s always been. When Dad stopped driving and they began to hire drivers, they still did it together. Leonard did the part about making the car go fast, and Dad kept up with everything else. They have been a really good team.”
Eddie and Len Wood, Glen’s sons, now run the racing part of the Wood Brothers team operation. Their sister, Kim, handles much of the business end. Eddie and Len grew up in the team shop in Stuart (the main shop now is in Harrisburg, NC, near Charlotte Motor Speedway) and learned at the feet of Leonard, widely acclaimed as one of the best mechanics and innovators in the history of the sport.
“I can remember as a little kid that they’d work all day at the shop, then come and have dinner and then go back and work until 10 or 11 at night every night,” Eddie said. “That was just the way it was. They did all that together, and now they’re going to be in the hall together.”
Glen, the family and team patriarch, went into the hall last year, and there was significant talk among garage-area veterans that he and Leonard had worked so closely together over the years that they should go into the hall at the same time. The voters thought differently, but many observers figured Leonard would follow as soon as possible.
“I drove down with Daddy to the Hall of Fame (election) last year, and he was counting off some of the other nominees,” Len Wood said. “He said, ‘Guys like Curtis Turner, Buck Baker, Herb Thomas…they’ve got to go in before I do.’ The voters went the other way.
“There was talk about them going in together, but it worked out better this way. It was right. Dad being the oldest went first. I think Mama (Bernice Wood) said it best last year. When Daddy got in, she said, ‘We’re in the Hall of Fame. Now with Leonard getting in, we feel like we’re there, too.”
Even beyond the membership of Glen and Leonard, the Hall of Fame building speaks Wood Brothers loudly. From cars on the Glory Road display to pit boards, equipment, trophies and photographs, the first family of Stuart is extremely well represented. With such a long history in the sport, the team has touched virtually every important aspect of NASCAR over 60 years.
Glen and Leonard Wood have been at the heart of all that.
“Dad and Leonard have different personalities, but they always had one thing they shared,” Eddie said. “They always did things the right way. They treated people the right way. They’re different in some ways, but there’s one thing they shared – the race car.”
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.