They are credited with perfecting the modern pit stop, realizing that if they could change tires and refill the tank faster than anyone else, it would improve their chances of winning the race. To that point, the driver would pull leisurely into the pits and switch off the car while it was being serviced, with no particular emphasis on speed.
“It was just good common sense,” Wood said. “If you made a quick stop under the green, you would be way down the track from (the other cars) when you went back out.”
Leonard perfected a jack that could hoist a car off the ground in three or four strokes, instead of 15 or more. One of the team’s earliest drivers, Marvin Panch, didn’t even worry about running up front.
“He knew if he got a little behind that when he stopped, he’d go back out ahead,” Glen Wood said. “But everyone has caught up now.”
That, in a sense, is what happened to the Wood Brothers in every facet of their operation. They might have faded away like so many other old-time teams if not for a longtime relationship with Ford Motor Co., which kept providing support and funding even when the results didn’t justify much faith.
Now, a team that was set to run only 17 races this year _ less than half the schedule _ might have to adjust its plans.
“It could mean a lot,” Glen Wood said. “You never know what this might lead to. I don’t know how much we win, but I’m guessing it’s more than $24,000.”
That was Tiny Lund’s payday when he captured the first of the Wood Brothers’ five Daytona victories in 1963.
Glen Wood actually drove for the team in its early years. He first came to Daytona in 1947 just to watch, then returned to compete before Bill France built his massive 2.5-mile superspeedway, an era when races were held on an oval course that comprised the beach for one straightaway, the A1A highway for the other.
He still goes to that spot every year, now surrounded by condos.
“It was so long ago,” Wood said wistfully. “That was an interesting race we had there.”
Leonard was standing nearby, amazed at the elaborate ceremony that broke out in Victory Lane after Bayne pulled in.
“This is the biggest celebration in the winner’s circle I’ve ever seen,” Leonard said. “I didn’t know they did all this. Of course, it’s been a long time since we’ve been here.”