Indianapolis Motor Speedway isn’t just any race track. It’s an iconic part of automotive history. It’s hosted 100 Indianapolis 500s and numerous other major events including 22 NASCAR Sprint Cup races.
Just touring the 2.5-mile track, with its massive grandstands on both sides of the long front straightaway, is an experience to behold. Being there during a race is one of the premier motorsports experiences for both fans and competitors.
The Wood Brothers team that now fields the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion driven by Ryan Blaney, was part of Indianapolis Motor Speedway history long before NASCAR made its debut appearance there in 1994. The Woods swiftly handled the pit-road duties in 1965 as Jim Clark delivered Ford Motor Company its first victory in America’s most famous automobile race.
The Woods are back at the Brickyard this week with their No. 21 Fusion decked out in the blue colors of Quick Lane Tire and Auto Centers. The paint scheme is part of a promotion of the “Trading One Uniform For Another” scholarship program for veterans seeking to find work as automotive technicians.
Crew chief Jeremy Bullins is among those working hard to put the No. 21 Quick Lane Ford up front and draw even more attention to the scholarship program in this weekend’s Combat Wounded Coalition 400.
Like many others on both sides of the catchfence, he’s a fan of the Brickyard and in awe of the racing there.
“How can you not be excited about Indy?” Bullins said. “The first time your car comes by you on the frontstretch, if you don't get chills you better get checked out.
“The place has so much history you can feel it. It's such a special place, and I can't wait to get there every year.”
For competitors like Bullins, the opportunity to work on the same ground as legendary mechanics and drivers from years past is not taken lightly.
“When you think about all those who raced there before us it's an honor just to be there,” he said. “The Wood Brothers history alone, bringing their pit crew expertise and winning the Indy 500, is something we are all proud of.”
Bullins is not alone in feeling that way.
“It's a place we and every other team put an emphasis on running well at,” he said. “We were fortunate to test there last week, so we hope we have some things figured out.
“We also have a really cool paint scheme this week celebrating Quick Lane's new scholarship program for our veterans. What a great way to show our gratitude for their sacrifices at the birthplace of motor sports.”
The program will provide five veterans with $10,000 scholarships.
Before he joined the Wood Brothers team and became a full-time Sprint Cup crew chief, Bullins enjoyed success at Indianapolis in other NASCAR series, and that gives him both confidence and motivation headed into the weekend.
“I was fortunate enough be on the winning team for the inaugural Xfinity Series race in 2012 and have a couple of runner-up finishes in the Cup race on other teams,” he said. “We would love nothing more to get our first win this weekend and will leaving nothing on the table trying.”