The Wood Chopper I traveled to Stuart, Va, on March 1, 2012. Stuart is famous for being the home of the Wood Brothers Race Team. These guys are icons in the sport of auto racing. They are so well known that frequently folks with little interest in auto racing recognize the name.
Stuart is a small town in south central Virginia at the base of the Appalachian Mountains. Tourists travel through here on the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway or to Mabry Mill. Another famous citizen of Stuart was JEB Stuart, the well know calvary general of the Civil War. JEB was born about 4 miles southwest of the town and was honored by the town being named after him.
My trip to Stuart was to see the 2011 Daytona 500 winning car. The car was from the Wood Brothers racing stable and was on display in their museum. This was a once in a life time opportunity to see history in real life…….
Here I am in Stuart, Virginia, at the Wood Brothers Museum. I expected to see a few tourist and some nice people explaining the museum displays. ….. But I was pleasantly surprised……. The first person that I saw was the icon himself… Glen Wood…. I couldn’t believe my eyes. After I recovered from my momentary shock, I dropped into my tourist mode and walked up to Mr. Wood, who was actually sitting in a rocking chair. Feeling like a nervous tourist, I reached for his hand and said
“I have always wanted to meet you. Could I shake your hand?”
…..He smiled and said
“I would be glad to”.
He did….I did…..Like an embarrassed teenager, I immediately walked away from him……I was intimidated by being in the presence of this man and needed to regain my composure. You must understand that this man, although he is only 15 years older than me, has been my idol since I was 12 years old.
I wandered through the museum, looking at race cars and fabulous pictures of historic happenings and of famous people in the racing world. Several other members of the Wood family were present. They mingled with the tourist, answered questions and posed for photos. The Wood family made everyone feel at ease, including me.
This picture is Glen Wood [Left}, Buck Woods [Middle] and Delano Wood [Right]
Not all NASCAR racers were moon shiners. Glenn Wood actually worked as a logger. The story goes that by the time he was age 21 that he owned a saw mill. From this work history Glen was tagged with the nick name “The Wood Chopper”. After a while, I spotted Glen sitting at a picnic table in the race shop break room. He was alone and looked tired. I sat down beside of him and asked if he was worn out by all of the happenings today. His answer was “Yes, I am a little tired. It creeps up on me quicker than it used to”. He went on to tell me that he really enjoys the people visiting.
Mr. Wood is a walking encyclopedia of racing history. He knew everybody and then some. He could recite minute details of happenings of 50 years ago like it was yesterday. You could see a sparkle in his eyes when he was telling stories about David Pearson, Dale Inman, Richard Petty and many others. Glenn Wood knew them all and they all knew him and held him in the highest regard. It is quite satisfying to me that our conversation was not just about racing. We also talked about living and growing up in the Dan Valley area. We talked about life….
Yes….My early years were spent about 15 miles down the road in a place called Sandy Ridge, so we had some of the same memories about growing up in an area that time had almost forgotten.
We shared and remembered…….. It was an an extremely good day for me…….
Why didn’t I meet this man earlier in my life?? …….. I have no excuse.