21 Team Throwing It Back to 1953 at Darlington

Wood Brothers Racing

This weekend’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway is a time the NASCAR community honors its past with a variety of activities, topped by teams running special historical paint schemes on their race cars.

Harrison Burton and the No. 21 DEX Imaging team will be throwing it back to 1953 and running a paint scheme reminiscent of the 1939 Ford driven that year by the late team founder Glenn Wood and wrenched by his brother Leonard.

The No. 21 Mustang Dark Horse, like the ’39 Ford, will be called the “Leonard Wood Special.”

Crew chief Jeremy Bullins said he’s proud to be a part of the team’s recognition of a race car from their earliest days in the sport.

“Darlington is always one of my favorite weekends being such a historic venue and holding so much history in our sport,” he said. “It’s been an honor to race at Darlington with the 21 car over the years with some amazing throwback paint schemes recognizing the team’s storied past.   

“This week is no different with our Leonard Wood Special scheme.  It looks great and hopefully we can make it just as fast as Leonard Wood could back in the day!”

Leonard Wood, who will be at Darlington this weekend to see the Leonard Wood Special paint scheme on the track, said he’s humbled that the current leadership of the team honored him and his late brother Glenn with the paint scheme.

 “It’s very rewarding,” he said. “To see my name on the roof and Glenn’s on the door touches my heart.”

Wood said those days racing Modified and Sportsman Fords with his brother were some of the best times of his life.

“Later on I got to set up cars for some of the world’s greatest race drivers, but I had more fun racing those Modifieds with my brother,” he said. “We learned a lot together and won a lot of races.”

Wood was just 17 years old back in 1953 when he was chief mechanic and engine builder.

He’d start with a 100-horsepower flathead V8 Ford engine and doubling or more its horsepower through boring the block, adding multiple carburetors and a magneto in addition to his other tuning tricks.

All told, he said, he and his brother won more than 80 Modified and Sportsman races during their careers.

That beat the alternative for young men from rural Virginia. “Glenn used to say that there had to be something better to do than hoeing corn,” Wood said.

Those early race cars prepared by Leonard Wood and driven by Glenn Wood were co-owned by Wood and his one-time sawmilling partner and long-time friend, the late Chris Williams.

Williams, like the Wood family, was from Stuart, Va., and the team raced mostly on dirt and asphalt tracks in Virginia and the Carolinas.

Wood eventually took full ownership of the race team in the late 1950s, but he and his family remained close to the Williams family. The two families share lots of history including a memorable trip to the races at Daytona Beach in 1951.

Both proposed to their girlfriends not long before the races. Both couples married, then let the annual trip to the beach races double as their honeymoon.

The current version of the Leonard Wood Special will see the track for the first time for practice on Saturday at 10:35 a.m. Eastern Time with qualifying at 11:20.

Sunday’s 400-mile, 293-lap race is scheduled to start just after 3 p.m. with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1, which also will carry Saturday’s activities.

Stage breaks are planned for Laps 90 and 185.


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