Jim Massey Was The Start Of Something Big For The Wood Brothers

The list of drivers who have raced for the Wood Brothers over the years includes some of the legends of auto racing. drivers like David Pearson, A.J. Foyt, Curtis Turner, Cale Yarborough, Dan Gurney and Parnelli Jones have all piloted a Wood Brothers entry at one point in time.

That list begins with Jim Massey, who was the first driver other than team founder Glen Wood to drive for the Wood Brothers.

Wood was a successful driver in his own right, but he also saw the possibilities that came with putting talented drivers behind the wheel of the cars prepared by his family’s team.

It’s a formula that led to 98 Sprint Cup Series victories and has kept his team in the sport for 65 years and counting.

Massey, who died Aug. 21 of injuries sustained in a freak accident that occurred when an object came off the roadway and struck him while he was mowing his lawn, was one of those drivers that caught Wood’s eye.

Massey had driven for Hubert Westmoreland, one of the top car owners of that era, but was available for a race at Martinsville Speedway in 1957.

“I’d raced with him at different places and knew he was a good driver,” Wood said. “He didn’t have a ride, so I asked him to drive one of our cars.”

Massey proved that Wood’s estimation of his ability was correct as he finished second to Bob Welborn, but ahead of three of the sport’s top drivers, Lee Petty, Rex White and Joe Weatherly.

Massey ran two other races in the 50s for the Woods, scoring a 10th-place finish at North Wilkesboro in 1957 and a fifth-place in the 1958 season opener at Fayetteville, N.C.

In 1960, he ran six races for the Wood Brothers, with another second place at Martinsville, this time behind Richard Petty and ahead of Wood, his team owner. Massey also had a third-place finish at Bowman-Gray Stadium in a race in which Wood started on the pole and led all 200 laps.

Wood, who visited Massey at his home in Mebane, N.C., earlier this year, said Massey told him in the years since that with a little luck in the 1960 race he could have beaten Petty, Martinsville’s all-time win leader with 15 victories on the paper-clip-shaped, half-mile oval.

“He was really good on the short tracks,” Wood recalled.

For his entire Cup career, Massey made 51 starts from 1955-1964 with 12 top-five and 28 top-10 finishes. He also ran 57 races on NASCAR’s Convertible circuit, where he had three wins, 20 top-five and 37 top-10 finishes.

After his racing days were done, Massey owned Pleasant Grove Esso and worked as mechanic before and after his retirement.

He was 85 years old.

Wood Brothers Racing PR
Speedway Digest Staff

Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest