Friday, February 8, 2013

The Wood Brothers rise again

    A great deal of the Wood Brothers' success in NASCAR came well before new fans started paying attention. But in recent years, the Wood Brothers have taken center stage iN NASCAR again for several reasons - the induction of Leonard and Glen Wood in the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Trevor Bayne's surprise win in the Daytona 500 in 2011.

   After Friday night's induction ceremony, Eddie Wood was asked if the recent spotlight has helped raise the visibility of his family's contribution to NASCAR's history.

   "It really has. It probably really started when David (Pearson) got in the Hall of Fame, which was in '10, I guess, or '11. And we changed the ‑ to honor David's accomplishments and his Hall of Fame induction, that's when we went back to the red and white car that they had had for so many years," he said. "That seemed to just be the right thing to do that day. I'm not even sure how we came up with it, it was just like, let's just do it, and the guys at Motorcraft said, okay, that's fine.

   "That just started that whole ball rolling, and then we got fortunate enough to win the 500, and dad getting in and then Leonard getting in. You know, there's a lot of young fans that are really, really young that probably ‑ they don't know anything about what happened in the '60s and '70s and stuff like that, but that did ‑‑ I mean, just the attention that we got since then has just been like it was back in the '70s with winning a lot of races, which is really, really cool.

   "I was a little bitty part of that in the '70s. I was his gopher, but I was there. So I remember all of that and how much fun it was and how special it was. Winning that race kind of brought all that back. And then the people, we heard from people after we won that race that we hadn't heard from in 40 years. I mean, it was just unbelievable the attention that it brought, which is ‑‑ that's NASCAR. That's the way it works."

Rusty Wallace and the privilege of racing in NASCAR

   As he has done several times this year, Rusty Wallace again talked about the need of today's NASCAR drivers to appreciate the opportunity they have. He mentioned it during his acceptance speech on Friday night during his induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

   Afterwards, I asked Wallace why he felt it necessary to continue to share that message and why it was so important to him.

   Here is his answer:

   "Because I think there are some people that don't appreciate it enough. I think some people take it for granted, and I think some people really need to know that there's so many people out there that don't have a proper education like I don't have, and you go out there and you get in these damned race cars and you drive and they pay you millions and millions of dollars, and that's a hell of a privilege to do something like that," he said.

   "And I get it, I understand it, and I know unless there's people packed in them grandstands that the popularity of the sport is going to go down and we're all going to be looking for different work. But I'm just really grateful that I was able as a young kid out of St. Louis to be able to do this, and it pisses me off when I see some of these people that don't appreciate it enough, and I want all the drivers to appreciate NASCAR like I appreciated it. You don't have to think like I think, but you'd better damned think like I think on that issue."