Wood Brothers Get Their First Taste Of NHRA Action
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Eddie Wood and Len Wood, owners of NASCAR’s famed Wood Brothers Racing team, attended their first-ever NHRA drag racing event when they dropped into the Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Ill. over the weekend.
Pretty safe to say they had a good time.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Eddie Wood said. “This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever been to – ever. We were always racing somewhere when the drag race was close by and we never really had the opportunity to go.”
The Woods were at the Route 66 Raceway at the invitation of Bob Tasca III and his Motorcraft Funny Car team.
Thanks, Bob, Eddie said.
“We got to go to the starting line,” he said. “You see people on TV standing there, but until you experience it, and that’s what everybody told me, ‘It will change your life,’ and I believe that. The feeling you get in your chest and your whole body – you can feel that horsepower, from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. To me, that was the most impressive thing.’
Eddie Wood got a dose of olfactory love as he stood near the starting line.
“I love the smell of nitro,” he said. “Yeah, it burns your eyes and all that, that’s OK, but I really like this. I like the smell of the rubber. I like the smell of the nitro. I just like everything about it. The people are very, very accommodating. The fans are friendly, the drivers and the people that work on the cars; everybody is just great. This is really a good atmosphere. The group as a whole, NHRA, has something to be proud of.”
In the NHRA, crews don’t tweak the engine between the rounds. They completely rebuild it. And they do it in full view of fans who care to stroll up to the haulers and watch.
That was mighty cool, Len Wood said.
“It’s amazing to what these guys work,” he said. “To tear the engines completely down in 12 minutes, then reassemble them and be running in 45 minutes after they just finished their run – that’s amazing. I understand more about it now the way they’ve got everything. It’s almost like a modular type deal. They’ve got their heads prepped ready to go on the next set. The blower is all prepped and ready. Each thing is a unit and you just pack about five units together and you’ve got an engine. It’s amazing.”
Drag racing and stock-car racing are about as different as racing gets. A race drones on for hours in one sport while in the other is over in 4 seconds. One’s cars turn, one’s do not.
One sport burns your eyes with nitro fumes, one does not.
But Eddie Wood says there are similarities, also. Similarities which almost all forms of racing share.
“When they pull up to the line, they’ve done the burnout and they’re getting ready to go, it reminds me at our races and they fire them off when they say, ‘Gentlemen, start your engines.’ That’s kind of the same feeling,” he said.
“It’s the feeling that I had when I was a kid and now I still have it. You never lose that. To me, that’s the most exciting part of our racing or this race or any race is after they sing the anthem and start the engines. That to me is the coolest part. To compare it to this, that’s the comparison I can make.”
The event in Joliet may have been the first the Wood brothers have attended, but it will not be the last. That’s a romise, Eddie said.
“I’m already trying to figure out which one I’m going to come to,” Eddie Wood said. “I think we’re not racing the weekend NHRA is in Charlotte, so we’ll definitely be there. I’d like to go to one of the older tracks. We’ve got Darlington and Martinsville, and those tracks mean a lot to me, so I’m sure there are drag strips that are like that that have history to them. They’re racing in Englishtown next week, that’s an older one, Pomona and Gainesville. I’d like to go to Indy. This is kind of like the racing we do everywhere, every race is a big race. Each one has it’s own characteristics. This is good stuff.”