WOOD BROTHERS RACING
cut for Charlotte’s Coca-Cola 600, too.
And that’s when the phone rang.
“A few days after Charlotte, we were
testing at Pocono and I got a phone call
out of the clear blue and it was Edsel
Ford,” says Eddie. The Woods had run
FoMoCo equipment since the start, and
a fondness for the little team that had
delivered so much still ran deep in Detroit.
“Edsel said, ‘Hey, I haven’t talked to
you in a while. Where have you been? You
haven’t called me in a while.’ I said, ‘Well, Mr.
Ford, we’re running so poorly that I’m
ashamed to.’ He asked me what was wrong
and I told him we just couldn’t get going. I
Edsel Ford II, great-grandson of Henry
Ford and member of Ford’s board of
directors, recalls making that phone call.
“There was a time when Eddie and I
spoke by phone on a very regular basis,” he
says. “I hadn’t heard from him for a while,
so when we finally talked, I asked why. He
told me they were embarrassed by the
way they’d been performing on track, so
he was embarrassed to call me. As much
as it bothered him, it also bothered me.
You can’t fix a problem unless you address
it and act on it, so that’s what we did. I went
to the Director of Ford Racing to discuss
how we could help them get turned around.
It was the start of a long road back to
where they are now. It was important to
Curtis Turner, Marvin Panch, Dan
Gurney, Fireball Roberts, Cale
Yarborough and A.J. Foyt (to name
just a few) all went to Victory Lane
with the Woods. But there was one
driver who, more than any of them,
truly came to personify what the
No. 21 car and team were all about.
No prizes for guessing the archetypal
Wood Brothers Racing wheelman...
“You know what the answer is
going to be – it’s got to be Pearson,”
says Len Wood. “David drove for us
from the spring of 1972 until ’ 79 and
he just fit the driving style of that
time period. His style matched
Leonard’s amazing technical abilities.
Leonard could build the engine, the car
and everything. He was the main one
making the horsepower at the time.
“Pearson joined when A.J. Foyt opted
to concentrate on Indy cars. The guy’s
supposedly washed up, over the hill,
but only goes out and wins his first race
with us, the Rebel 400 at Darlington!
It’s impressive how they clicked.”
With the Woods opting to run only
partial Winston Cup schedules, the
partnership was about wins, not titles,
and the hit rate is truly impressive.
“We won 30 percent of the races we
ran with David,” says Len. “It ended up
that in seven years, we won 43 races
with him and probably that many
poles. Pearson was a thinking guy.
He never abused his cars. He only
showed you what he needed to.”
Eddie Wood agrees on Pearson,
adding: “In that particular time frame,
if you said his name, you said our
name. If you said our name, it was the
same as saying his. It was all one thing,
and It was a special time, for sure.”
(ABOVE) David Pearson wins the ’ 73 Dixie
500 in Atlanta – one of 11 wins from only 18
starts for the Wood Bros. ace that season.
COOL HAND PEARSON
THE DEFINING DRIVER
“Edsel said, ‘So you’re telling me my 21
is broken?’ I said, ‘Yes sir, it’s broken.’
So he said, ‘We’re going to fix that’”