Each year, when the Wood Brothers, their driver Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Quick Lane team roll into Indianapolis Motor Speedway to compete in the Brickyard 400, they find themselves in awe of that track and the people who have competed there over the years.
It’s especially true this year because on Tuesday, at team founder Glen Wood’s 92nd birthday celebration in Stuart, Va., there was Indy history all around.
There with Glen Wood were his brothers Leonard, Delano and Ray Lee, who worked the pits in 1965 as Jim Clark delivered Ford its first Indy 500 victory.
Also in attendance was Donnie Allison, who remains the most successful driver to do the Indy 500/World 600 double, although in his era those races were run on different days.
Allison, who ran 11 races for the Wood Brothers in NASCAR’s elite series, won the 600 on May 24, 1970 driving a Ford for Banjo Matthews. Then on May 30 he finished fourth at Indy and won Rookie of the Year honors.
The next year, Allison finished sixth at Indy on May 29 then drove the Wood Brothers’ Mercury to a second-place finish at Charlotte the next day. The driver who finished ahead of Allison at Charlotte that day was his brother Bobby, who also was on hand in Stuart on Tuesday.
Bobby Allison also made two Indy 500 starts, both in Ford-powered cars fielded by Roger Penske, whose NASCAR teams now have an alliance with the Wood Brothers and their current driver Ryan Blaney.
The birthday party attendees included NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Inman, Rex White and Richard Petty, who has been a car owner for both the IndyCar and NASCAR races at Indianapolis.
For Eddie Wood, one of the current co-owners of the No. 21 Quick Lane Ford, the gathering in Stuart was a rare coming together of NASCAR legends who have combined to win 11 championships and more than 400 races in NASCAR’s elite series alone.
“There was so much history in that room,” he said. “There were six NASCAR Hall of Fame members, three of my dad’s brothers and his sister Crystal, and about 100 more family members and friends.
“I can’t think of a better way to set ourselves up for this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which in addition to being a great race track is one of the most iconic places in the world.
“I hope we can go up there and have a great race for Quick Lane by capitalizing on the speed we’ve had so far this season.”
Qualifying for the Brickyard 400 is set for Saturday at 6:15 p.m., and the race is set to get the green flag just after 2:30 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBC.