Glen Wood, co-founder of Wood Brothers Racing and one of NASCAR‘s pioneers, died Friday morning, a team report announced. He was 93.
“It’s with profound sadness that we mourn the passing of team founder and family patriarch Glen Wood this morning,” the team tweeted. “We want to thank family, friends, our small-town Virginia community of Patrick County, as well as everyone in the NASCAR community for their unwavering support.”
Wood had struggled with health issues in recent times. Over the past week, rumours surfaced of Wood being placed in a hospice, though the team tweeted he was at home resting shortly after.
In 1950, Wood and his younger brother Leonard founded WBR. During the team’s early history, Wood raced sporadically for it, winning four Monster Energy Cup Series (then Grand National Series) races over an eleven-year span. Over the decades, the team has grown into one of the Cup Series’ most famous names, scoring ninety-nine Cup race victories.
Names that have driven for the team include NASCAR great David Pearson, open-wheel legend Dan Gurney, Alabama Gang member Neil Bonnett, A.J. Foyt, Buddy Baker, Curtis Turner, Cale Yarborough, and current Cup driver Ryan Blaney, who scored the team’s latest win in 2017. Paul Menard currently drives WBR’s famed #21 Ford.
Wood was a motorsport innovator, helping to revolutionise racing tactics such as the pit stop. In 1965, WBR’s pit strategies earned them an opportunity to service Lotus‘ Jim Clark at the Indianapolis 500, a race he would go on to win.
“In every way, Glen Wood was an original,” NASCAR CEO Jim France said in a release. “In building the famed Wood Brothers Racing at the very beginnings of our sport, Glen laid a foundation for NASCAR excellence that remains to this day. As both a driver and a team owner, he was, and always will be, the gold standard.
“But personally, even more significant than his exemplary on-track record, he was a true gentleman and a close confidant to my father, mother and brother. On behalf of the France family and all of NASCAR, I send my condolences to the entire Wood family for the loss of a NASCAR giant.”
In 1998, Wood was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2012.
Many figures in the motorsport community mourned Wood’s passing over social media.
“Glen Wood sure lived a full life, a remarkable journey,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted. “His contributions to motorsports are tough to measure. My thoughts are with my dear friend, his brother Leonard and the rest of the family.”
Racing legend Mario Andretti posted, “Everybody who’s anybody in our sport loves the Woods Bros. Love & respect for the standards they set. Even Colin Chapman of Lotus called on @woodbrothers21 led by Glen Wood to help him win the 1965 Indy 500 with their pit stops. RIP Glen Wood. Gone but never ever forgotten”.