As the NASCAR community looks back on 20 years of racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, many in the sport say their most memorable experiences are from the inaugural event.
That’s true for Eddie and Len Wood, co-owners of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion. NASCAR’s first trip to the famous Brickyard was their first trip too.
Although their father Glen Wood and uncles Leonard, Delano and Ray Lee hold a major place in Indy lore through their work getting Jim Clark and his Lotus Ford to victory in the 1965 Indianapolis 500, the younger generation had never seen the place before NASCAR went there in 1994.
“Len and I were too young to go back when our dad and uncles were there,” Eddie Wood said. “And after that we were always busy at Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend when the Indy 500 was being run.”
The brothers spent their first moments at the Brickyard back in ’94, more as tourists than race team members. They walked out onto the track, onto the yard of bricks at the start/finish line and stood under the Gasoline Alley sign.
“I took Len’s picture, and he took mine,” Wood said.
The brothers also got to know some of the officials at the track, including some old timers who were working there when the Woods went to Victory Lane in ‘65.
“We learned a lot about things that happened there prior to NASCAR and the stock cars coming there,” Wood said. “One of those officials gave us an original brick from the track. That was pretty special.”
The Woods’ Ford, driven in the inaugural Brickyard 400 by Morgan Shepherd, was pretty special too. He finished 10th in that historic race and backed it up with another 10th in the second running.
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, even after adopting a limited schedule, has kept Indianapolis on its schedule every year.
“It’s one of the most prestigious races we run,” Wood said.
Over the years, seven drivers have driven the No. 21 at Indy, including Michael Waltrip, Elliott Sadler, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, Bill Elliott and Trevor Bayne, who has driven the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford the past three years and will be behind the wheel again this weekend.
Qualifying for The Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard is set for Saturday at 2:10 p.m. eastern, and the green flag is scheduled for just after 1 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.