DEARBORN — The date of this year’s Daytona 500 is an important landmark for Ford and Wood Brothers Racing. The green flag for this year’s “Great American Race” marks the 50th anniversary of the day substitute driver Tiny Lund drove a 1963 Ford Galaxie built by Leonard Wood to the Blue Oval’s first Daytona 500 win in 1963.
The odds were undeniably against him. Lund was only in the seat because the Woods’ regular driver, Marvin Panch, who had already qualified the Wood Brothers’ Ford for the Daytona 500, was injured trying to set a speed record in a sports car at the track 10 days before the race.
Panch, who lost control of the car in turn three, was pinned inside until Glen Wood, NASCAR official Johnny Bruner, crewmen and drivers, including Lund, ran to free him as the car caught fire. Incredibly, it was Lund – the strongest of the rescuers – who was able to pull Panch away from the wreck. He was awarded the Carnegie Medal of Honor for the rescue.
Losing a driver 10 days before the race could’ve been devastating to the team’s chances, but in what has so often been the case for the oldest continually running team in NASCAR, Lund’s win was a moment that must have been meant to be. It was largely possible because Leonard Wood, in a demonstration of his foresight and innovation, had equipped the Galaxie with a modified right-front spindle so the tire wore evenly through the corners, allowing the team to go without changing the tires.
To honor both Lund’s victory and Leonard Wood’s induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing has partnered with Wood Brothers Racing to create a special paint scheme for this year’s Daytona 500.
Driver Trevor Bayne, who had his own storybook moment when he won on NASCAR’s biggest stage in 2011, will pilot the Rangoon Red and Corinthian White Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion tribute car that mirrors the Galaxie Lund drove to Victory Lane.
“We are happy to honor this 50th anniversary with Wood Brothers Racing and Ford,” said Mary Lou Quesnell, marketing director, Ford Customer Service Division. “The story behind it is just incredible. Congratulations to Wood Brothers Racing and Leonard Wood for joining his brother Glen in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. We couldn’t be more proud to support you.”
The 1963 Galaxie the Woods built for Leonard’s display in the Hall of Fame’s Hall of Honor will be on display in the Sprint Fan Zone in the infield of Daytona International Speedway during the race weekend. It took the family – including engineering genius Leonard Wood - 18 months and countless hours of searching for the parts and pieces to make an exact twin of Lund’s car, from the wheels to the paint used.
“We’ve always been a Ford team, and we’ve had Motorcraft on our cars for a long time,” said Eddie Wood, who co-owns Wood Brothers Racing with his brother Len. “Our family has such a rich history in NASCAR and we love to tell the stories. We’re fortunate to have a sponsor that appreciates the history of the sport and especially our family’s history in stock car racing as much as we do.
“We were able to honor our dad, Glen, with a special car at Charlotte in 2011. We couldn’t ask for better timing. Maybe lightning will strike again and we’ll get a win with Leonard’s car.”
For live updates from the Daytona 500, follow the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team on Twitter (MQL_Racing) and Facebook (click on the “Twitter” icon). Follow Wood Brothers Racing on Facebook and Twitter (@WoodBrothers21) and driver Trevor Bayne on Facebook and Twitter (@TBayne21).