Glen Wood, oldest NASCAR Hall of Famer and patriarch of legendary team, dies at 93

NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty (left) congratulates Glenn Wood on his selection to the sport’s Hall of Fame in 2012.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty (left) congratulates Glenn Wood on his selection to the sport’s Hall of Fame in 2012. Getty Images for NASCAR

Glen Wood, one of NASCAR’s legendary car owners and the oldest living member of the sport’s Hall of Fame, has died at the age of 93.

Wood Brothers Racing, the team he founded in 1950, first announced the news on its social media account.

“It’s with profound sadness that we mourn the passing of team founder and family patriarch Glen Wood this morning,” the tweet read. “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 first grew to popularity as a driver in NASCAR’s preeminent circuit, now the Cup Series, largely on the strength of his four career victories at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998, but his accomplishments as a car owner far surpassed his achievements behind the wheel.

Wood Brothers Racing, which has won 99 races in the Cup Series during its 60-plus years of existence, is among NASCAR’s most legendary teams. Wood Brothers Racing has won a Cup race in each of the past seven decades, the only team to do so. Wood’s team also captured five Daytona 500 wins and the 1963 Cup Series championship.

And during his long reign in the sport, Wood also worked with a number of the sport’s best drivers, including Hall of Famers David Pearson, Junior Johnson, Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott.

The team’s most recent victory came in 2017, when Ryan Blaney won at Pocono Raceway.

Wood was named to NASCAR’s 2012 Hall of Fame class, followed by his brother Leonard the next year. After learning of his induction, Wood said at the time, “It’s one of the biggest honors you could have. I didn’t come here alone, I had a lot of help. There’s five of us brothers. All of those helped at one time or another.”

Wood also attended NASCAR’s Speedweeks in Daytona Beach every season from 1947-2017.

Wood Brothers Racing is now run by Glen’s sons Eddie and Len, and daughter Kim. Aside from his obvious position as one NASCAR’s founding patriarch’s, Wood’s legacy endures with his team and his innovations. Atop that list is the choreographing of pit stops, something commonplace in NASCAR today but once unheard of then. Wood’s early teams cut their pit times in half by having pre-planned routines, and the rest of the racing community continues to build on his original breakthrough.

“In every way, Glen Wood was an original,” NASCAR chairman and CEO Jim France said in a statement. “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.”

The team said funeral arrangements are incomplete, but there will be a private family service.

Many throughout the NASCAR community expressed thoughts and memories of Wood on social media Friday morning.

“This is a difficult day for all of us at Ford Motor Company,” Edsel B. Ford II, a member of the board of directors, said in a statement. “Glen Wood was the founding patriarch of the oldest continuously operating NASCAR Cup Series team and we consider Wood Brothers Racing a part of our family, the Ford Family. The Wood Brothers race team, by any measure, has been one of the most successful racing operations in the history of NASCAR. Most importantly for our company, Glen and his family have remained loyal to Ford throughout their 69-year history.

“Glen was an innovator who, along with his family, changed the sport itself. But, more importantly, he was a true Southern gentleman who was quick with a smile and a handshake and he was a man of his word.”

Brendan Marks: 704-358-5889, @BrendanRMarks

Brendan Marks is a general assignment sports reporter for the Charlotte Observer covering the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, NASCAR and more. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has worked for the Observer since August 2017.
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