- Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 March 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 02 March 2011 00:00
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A look at the sports history helps give perspective to this year’s Daytona 500 victory by the Wood Brothers, NASCAR's sole surviving team from the organization’s formative years. This was the team’s fifth win in the "Great American Race."
The Wood Brothers, Glen and Leonard, won the Daytona 500 for the first time in 1963. Much like this year’s win with young Trevor Bayne behind the wheel, that first win in 1963 had a real storybook quality that not even a Hollywood script writer could have dreamed up.
Heading into the 1963 speed weeks, Marvin Panch, one of the top drivers of the era, was to drive the brothers’ entry. A week before the 500, Panch was practicing in a Maseratti he was to drive in a sports car race a few days before the 500 , when he lost control, crashed into the wall and slid across the track with flames billowing from the car. Among the group near the accident was a young sportsman and modified driver from Cross,
S.C., Tiny Lund. A mountain of a man, “Tiny,” with the help of some others, pulled Marvin Panch from the flaming wreck. Panch suffered severe burns and, though he would eventually recover, was in no shape to drive in that year’s Daytona 500.
In appreciation for his heroic rescue, the Wood Brothers gave Tiny Lund, who had never won a Grand National Race, the ride in their car for the Daytona 500. Lund showed the Wood Brothers had a keen eye for talent by driving to his first win on the sport’s premiere circuit.
Glen Wood was nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame in both of its first two classes. He is a lock for future induction to the sports Hall of Fame, it's just a matter of when, not if, he is inducted. Glenn won four times in his part-time driving career. On April 8, 1960, be beat the series, then reigning champion Rex White at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Speedy Thompson recorded the team’s first Super Speedway win in the Oct.16, 1960, National 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. For many seasons the team ran a limited schedule, specializing in the tracks of a mile or longer because they were the highest profile events, and paid the highest purses.
This year’s Hall of Fame inductee David Pearson won 11 of 18 starts for the wood Brothers in 1973. The team never won the owner’s championship, although in 1963 Joe Weatherly recorded five of his eight wins en route to that season’s championship behind the wheel of the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford.
Twenty of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers have driven for the Wood Brothers, including Curtis turner, Junior Johnson, Fred Lorenzen and Dan Gurney. Their Daytona 500 winners to date have been Tiny Lund, Cale Yarborough, A. J. Foyt, David Pearson and now Trevor Bayne.
Beginning in 1960, Wood Brothers entries have won in every decade. Trevor Bayne's win was the 98th victory in 1362 starts, including 112 at Daytona, where the team has won 15 points paying races.
This year’s Daytona 500 was the team’s first win since Elliott Sadler won at Bristol in 2001. their last Daytona victory came in 1976 when David Pearson and Richard Petty crashed in turn four of the final lap. Pearson was able to limp across the finish line to take the checkered flag.
Asked for his reaction to Trevor Bayne's upset win, a jubilant Glen Wood replied, "This is the highlight of the decade. You wonder if you're ever going to win another one."
Elliott Wood, one of the second generation of Wood Brothers now running the day-to-day operations of the team said, "That's the most special part of it all. To do what your dad and Leonard accomplished in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. We kind of thought we dropped the ball; it feels good to get the family's name back to victory lane."