Wood Brothers Racing spans seven decades of motorsports history, but its race shop has been in Harrisburg only since 2005.
At least a handful of the shop's 35 employees are from Cabarrus County, and each of them worked on the car Trevor Bayne drove when he became NASCAR'S youngest winner of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, a day after his 20th birthday.
As a way to recognize the company's role in the historic victory, town officials Monday designated March 15 as Wood Brothers Racing Day in Harrisburg.
The family-run business was founded by racing pioneer and innovator Glen Wood and his four brothers. His youngest brother, Leonard, has worked by his side for 61 years. Brothers Delano, Ray and Clay worked as their pitcrew for decades.
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Owned equally by Glen and his children - Eddie, Len and Kim - it is the oldest continuously operating NASCAR Cup Series team. Twenty of NASCAR'S Greatest Drivers, including David Pearson, Dale Jarrett, A.J. Foyt, Junior Johnson, Ralph Earnhardt and Bill Elliott, have driven for Wood Brothers Racing.
After the 2003 season, the team moved from Stuart, Va., and occupied a shop in Mooresville for two years before moving to the Harrisburg facility, which builds and maintains five cars for Trevor Bayne, who will run 18 of the 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events.
Bayne's recent victory has given workers at the shop new vigor and momentum.
Fabricator Carl Smith and foreman Wayne Gaudet most recently worked on the car Bayne drove in Las Vegas on March 6. They are part of a team of 20 people who disassemble, clean, service and reassemble at least one car each week.
"It makes it a whole lot easier to put in the extra hours and extra effort because we're seeing results," said Carl Smith, 52, who has lived in Concord for 13 years and has been a fabricator for Wood Brothers for two years.
"Our secret? We have Leonard and Glen. They were so far ahead of their time that people are now just catching up with them," said Smith. "We're just a small group of guys. We all know what needs to get done and we get it done. And we have a little bit of fun doing it."
Wood Brothers was one of the first shops to use quick jacks and fine-tune the science of pit stop choreography, and Smith said he enjoys having access to the racing legends.
"Their love and energy is amazing and it's contagious to the shop," said Smith. "And with Trevor being a young guy and running good, that puts a little lightness in your step."
Fabricator shop foreman Wayne Gaudet, 45, said people might find it interesting that he and his crew don't have an off season. The 15-year Concord resident has worked with Wood Brothers for four years.
"It's amazing how much work goes into building these cars and how quickly they can get destroyed," said Gaudet, a 20-year industry veteran. "You put in all those hours but then you see all your work pays off like it did in Daytona."
Gaudet said it takes about one month to make a "complete" car. Wood Brothers gets chasis built by Roush Fenway Racing in Concord then builds the cars.
Robert Rutemiller, a deputy with Cabarrus County Sheriff Office for six years, joined Wood Brothers as a mechanic and engine installer five years ago.
Rutemiller, a Harrisburg resident who lived in Concord for 20 years, coaches a high school lacrosse team in Kannapolis and said the shop's recent Daytona victory helped elevate his celebrity-like status with his players.
"It's just cool," he said. "The whole family is happy. The phone blew up, Facebook blew up and everybody congratulated us. People see us in our shirts and say, 'hey, man, congratulations.' So I think it's been pretty cool for everybody in Harrisburg and in Kannapolis."
Rutemiller, a former quick jack operator in a pit crew, tells his players that skills they learn from lacrosse can carry over to their personal and professional lives.
"This is not just a game, it can translate into other parts of your life," said Rutemiller. "You can use what you learn on the field and use all your senses and skills to land a job."
Rutemiller also revels in his first-hand access to racing legends.
"Listening to their stories is so cool," he said. "And to see (Glen) come in with a smile on his face and being so happy telling stories about the days when he won. That's 61 years of history. It's a legend telling you about things that happened back then. That's the coolest thing about working here."