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NASCAR Cup: Glen Wood remembered

1950s: Glen Wood poses with one of his NASCAR Cup cars in the mid-1950s. As a driver, Wood raced on the NASCAR Cup and Convertible circuits from 1953 through 1964. He won four Cup races and five times on the Convertible circuit. (Photo by ISC Images and Archives via Getty Images)

The Wood family has planned a private memorial service for Glen Wood, NASCAR Hall of Famer and co-founder of Wood Brothers Racing, the longest-tenured team in NASCAR. Wood passed away January 18, 2019, at the age of 93. Grandson Jon Wood, a former NASCAR driver and Director of Business Development for the race team, revealed via Facebook on Tuesday that his grandmother asked him to speak at the service. He chose to share the text of his speech with Wood Brothers Racing fans via the social media outlet. Below, is his speech:

“On behalf of our entire family, we’d like to thank everyone for being here today under these difficult circumstances. When Nannie asked me if I’d be willing to speak, I felt the same nervousness that I did last year over speaking for Pa and Leonard at the high school for their Distinguished Patrick Countian award. When I walked out of that high school my senior year, I swore I’d never go back and certainly never volunteer to talk in front of the entire school. But this was different. It was different because I had never really told my grandpa what I thought of him. We’re a family that doesn’t really do emotions. We don’t talk about them and we don’t really do lovey-feely type things, but it’s understood of course that we all do love each other. Anyway, backing up for a second, my Spanish teacher told me around this time last year that she wanted to nominate Pa and Leonard for this thing called the Distinguished Patrick Countian, an award presented by the student council, and you have to be a pretty hard-core good person to receive it. Long story short, they were picked, and Pa being the type of person he was, getting up and talking about himself would be; well he just wouldn’t do it. So I volunteered. I can’t underscore enough how much anxiety that school gave me and there’s nobody else I would even consider doing this for, except for my dad, but I sort of saw it as an opportunity to let him know what he meant to every one of us. It was a chance to use that award to say “thanks for everything you’ve done, not just for this county, but for each of us in your family, individually.

“I look at that day and the many other days he’s been honored. The hall of fame, there’s just too many to count. I look at his entire life and the number of people he’s impacted and friends he has amassed. He shaped every one of us in some way. I think each of us can give a particular time or instance where he did something or said something that had a very profound impact. There are obvious examples, like when you look at how my dad, Len and Kim turned out. They didn’t just magically grow up to be good people. They were raised that way. They were raised in a style and manner that even as full-grown adults, they still have this incredible respect for both of their parents. They treat them in a way that you just can’t really describe. There’s this priority that they put on both of them and it really is remarkable to see. But then there are the examples of how he shaped people that you really don’t know. I know he had a life changing impact on me. No, it wasn’t the company van in the culvert incident. I’ll call it an ‘incident’ because that’s what it was and it’s kind of a funny story. I may get some of the minor details mixed up but this is how I remember it going down. And I think Keven was along for this ride too, but anyway, one weekend back in my wilder days, some friends and I were ripping around in the woods in one of the company vans. I ended up getting the van stuck on a four-wheeler trail deep in the woods and we all had to walk back home that night. The next morning Pa’s out tending to his garden and finds a license plate in a culvert, a good distance off the main road and just in front of a powerline guidewire. Him being the good guy he was, he either took the plate to the sheriffs dept. or called them and told them, but either way word came right back to him, “Mr. Wood, this plate came from a vehicle that belongs to you.” A such and such passenger van. So I find out that he knows about “the incident” and at present, the van is still stuck in the woods, so I go over to their house expecting a lecture. Instead, he was more interested and impressed with how I had straddled this 4-foot culvert, knocked the plate off the van but didn’t turn it over. Keep in mind I’m there, at his house, during which time the van is still sitting on the side of a trail, deep in the woods, leaning up against a tree on the edge of a small cliff. I just left that part out. On a side note -as far as getting the van unstuck, that was one of many ‘I better call Jabo to fix this’ moments.

“Back to the part about him having a profound effect on my life (I’m choosing to leave this part out because I feel like it was something that was more geared toward just being shared at the funeral).

“It’s weird because there are just so many things, so many examples and instances of times where he has impacted situations and people for the better. You look back and every bit of that as a collective seems so large. Then you look at his final arrangements and they just seem; just a little inadequate. Sometimes I let my mind wander and when the possibility of a funeral became more real, I couldn’t help but wonder how all of this would be done. How would it be possible to accommodate everybody that he had touched in his 93 years in this small space, that surely it would be moved somewhere else. Then when I found out it would just be this small gathering, part of me felt like that was, just not good enough. Then it hit me, this is exactly the thing that should be done. It’s exactly what he wanted, exactly perfect. Now I could be completely wrong on this one, but I truly believe my grandpa’s personal life, his day to day in his later years, meant more to him than any race, any trophy, any achievement he got from the racing side of things. It could be that I only paid attention more recently and I’ve missed it entirely, but metaphorically speaking, if you had one of his trophies and a tomato he had grown sitting side by side on a table and you asked him about each, he would spend more time talking about that perfect tomato than he would the trophy. That’s without a doubt one of the most admirable things about him. It’s so difficult to separate racing from the personal side of our family. It’s all most of us have ever known or done, and we have two men to thank for that. But the thing that made Pa so special to people locally is that part of him that would talk about the tomato. And I think everyone would agree that it’s this small town, good people atmosphere that shaped who he was and the person he never stopped being. Sure, racing has been our livelihood, but it doesn’t define a person. There are just so many examples I could give, so many instances of things he did and the person he was that people appreciated, admired even. That you were more apt to see him driving a tractor or his gator than a car. Just the little things. But these are the things that made him so respected locally.

“Like it or not, we live in an age now where much of what people think and feel is written and viewed on a screen. People just type what they say and they can do it in a way that a buffer exists between them and reality. It makes for a toxic environment a lot of times because you’re able to say something and hide behind a layer of secrecy where you can just say something hateful and not deal with the consequences. There’s a Facebook group called Patrick County News that covers local stuff. It’s fairly big, and the comments can be controversial at times. If it’s a topic that people are divided on, people will literally argue about anything on there. From topics covering politics to feeding bears on the blue ridge parkway, if two or more people don’t see eye to eye, they’ll make it known, and honestly that’s no different than any other venue of social media, it’s just geared more toward local matters. Anyway, so I’d made up my mind ahead of time that I was going to ignore any comments that resulted from any posting about Pa being sick. Last week, a post from the team account ended up on there and me being curious, I decided to read the first comment only. Then the second. Then the third. Tons and tons and tons of comments and every single one came from people tied to this community, offering prayers and support and so many had their own little experiences to share. It wasn’t just “get well soon” or the vague comments people say. The overwhelming majority were people with actual stories and experiences they had with him. “Glen helped me do this,” “Glen gave me that.” Just one after the other.

“Getting back to the tomato versus the trophy thing, if you live in a big city, you can trick everyone into thinking you’re good people. Not here though. You get one chance at it and if you blow it, that’s it. So I think what I’m trying to say is, even with this lifetime list of amazing accomplishments, wins, awards, all this stuff. This type of thing would likely tarnish even the most humble person. But Pa stayed true to his roots and his difficult upbringing, and I think the best evidence of that is how he’s respected and remembered by this wonderful small town.

“I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of the business he created, but absolutely above and beyond that, and most importantly, I couldn’t be prouder of him and the family he and Nannie helped create. We’ll all miss him in ways words can’t really convey. But it’s impossible to forget the impact he has had in shaping us all and I think every one of us are better people because of it.”

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Posted by on January 22, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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