CONCORD, N.C. — When Len and Eddie Wood say they've got longtime family ties in NASCAR, believe it.
Wood Brothers Racing will make its 1,400th start in the Sprint Cup series when Trevor Bayne runs the No. 21 Ford in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday night. The team featured NASCAR Hall of Famers Glen and Leonard Wood and quickly became a Sprint Cup success with 98 career series wins spanning seven decades.
"It's the family business to us and it's a way of life," said Eddie Wood, who has worked with the team fulltime since 1972. "I've never really known anything else."
NASCAR has rarely known a time without the Wood Brothers fielding cars. The team has raced since 1950 and the current run began when founder Glen Wood, Eddie and Len's father, made the program's first series start in a Lincoln at Martinsville Speedway on May 17, 1953.
Glen and Leonard Wood are both in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Glen is going in as part of the third class in 2012 and Leonard is going in a year later. The team has amassed 98 series wins with a "Who's Who" of NASCAR drivers like David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Junior Johnson and Fireball Roberts – all in the NASCAR hall.
The Wood Brothers also helped win the 1965 Indianapolis 500, serving as the pit crew for winning driver Jim Clark.
Len Wood remembers when NASCAR was celebrating its 50th anniversary and came up with a list of its 50 great drivers.
"Twenty of those drivers had been in our car," he said.
The top moment? For Len, that's easy – and recent. "It's hard to top the Daytona 500 in 2011 with Trevor Bayne," he said.
Bayne was a little known driver with an underfunded team whose best days seemed long ago. But Bayne held firm and won the Daytona 500 one day after his 20th birthday. It gave the Woods family its first Sprint Cup win since Elliott Sadler was victorious at Bristol in 2001.
They are glad for their latest milestone and will keep working to extend that number. Bayne will start 29th in NASCAR's longest race. It will be his fourth career Sprint Cup start at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He's never finished better than 22nd.
Eddie Wood believes he's been to more than 1,100 of the team's races. He's proud the team has raced Ford products during its long, long run and stuck around through difficult times. "It's hard to stay here year after year now, much less through the ups-and-downs," he said.
Len remembers growing up in racing, watching his father leave for a race site and return Sunday night with stories of success. "Before long we started working in the shop and traveling and getting into that same routine," he said. "And it just became part of our lives and it still is today."