The team adopted the #21 permanently, and would become as notorious as any number in NASCAR history (along with the Petty #43 and Earnhardt #3). The Wood Brothers also found themselves lured to the big-ticket cash prizes offered by the growing Super speedway races in cities such as Daytona, Fla.; Charlotte, NC ; and Darlington, SC. Glen Wood soon stepped out from behind the wheel of the #21 Ford, and they began hiring drivers with reputations as winners at the different tracks.
The team soon began competing on the highest levels of the sport. Victories were won with the mechanical genius of the team of brothers, relatives, and friends. Leonard Wood's talent in the engine department soon brought the team acclaim and was second in the early years only to the fabled Holman-Moody engine juggernaut and the Petty racing dynasty of Lee Petty and son Richard Petty.
In the early 1970s, the Wood Brothers continued their success. The lightning-quick pit stops and high-powered engines of the #21 car proved a formidable challenge to all on the NASCAR circuit. Legendary drivers such as Donnie Allison and open-wheel Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt also took turns piloting the Wood car.
The team personnel in the Wood shop began to shift as the team raced in more events and traveled greater distances. Glen Wood emerged as the leader and patriarch of the team. Glen's young sons Eddie Wood and Len Wood also began working at the shop in menial labor jobs. Brother Delano Wood had evolved into one of the greatest pit crew members, and his skill as a jack man is incomparable even today. Other family friends soon joined the team, including Cecil Wilson from neighboring Lawsonville, North Carolina.
In 1972, David Pearson was hired to be the full-time driver of the #21. This choice would pave the way for one of the most successful strings of victory in motorsports history. Pearson would continue to drive the car from 1972 through 1979. In only seven years, the team entered 143 races and amassed a staggering 46 victories and 51 pole positions. Their race winnings surpassed $1.3 million during this seven-year period with Pearson driving.
In 1976, with Pearson behind the wheel, the Wood Brothers won the coveted "Triple-Crown" of NASCAR racing. This feat was accomplished by winning the legendary Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway; plus the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway; and the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. All of this was accomplished during the 1976 season.
The Wood Brothers hold many records and historic achievements. Among these are the fact that they have fielded only Ford Motor Company products since 1950, which makes the longest association of any motorsports team with a single manufacturer, ever. The Wood Brothers also have won at least one race in every decade for the last six decades, an unmatched feat. They have 98 total victories (including the Winston Select All-Star race); and have won 117 Pole Positions in 1,186 starts. They have earned over $30 million in career winnings, and remain among the winningest racing teams in the history of NASCAR racing for 60 years. Also, now that Petty Enterprises has merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, the Wood Brothers are the oldest team in NASCAR.
|2013 Ford Fusion Wood Brothers # 21|