Many a chapter in the 60-year history of the Wood Brothers racing team has been written at Charlotte Motor Speedway, site of this weekend’s Bank of America 500.
There was Speedy Thompson’s win in 1960, the Woods’ first triumph on a superspeedway. And then their streak of 13 straight poles in the 1970s with David Pearson and Neil Bonnett doing the driving, and Michael Waltrip’s win in the All-Star race in 1996. All told, the Woods have run 101 races at Charlotte, winning 20 poles and six points-paying races.
This weekend begins a new chapter in the Woods’ history at Charlotte as veteran Donnie Wingo takes over as crew chief of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, which will be carrying a special paint scheme for the 500.
The paint scheme is the work of Carson Luther, an eight-year-old resident of Wildwood, Mo., whose “Fired Up for a Cure” design was selected as part of Ford’s Customer Service Division’s contest to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and raise funds for research for Type 1 diabetes.
Luther was on hand at the Wood Brothers shop just down the road from the speedway this week for the unveiling of the car carrying his design.
“I wanted fire and flames on my car, and thought the blue would make the flames stand out,” he said. “I want a cure for diabetes more than anything, even all the LEGOs in the world.”
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he and his team are proud to be carrying Carson’s colors.
“It’s a neat paint scheme, and we’re honored to be a part of this program and to be able to help raise money for such a worthwhile cause,” he said.
The No. 21 Fusion and the special paint scheme are already winners.
Luther raised $5,341 for JDRF with his design. That number, added to the money raised by the designs that were submitted, brought the total for the contest to $33,391 for research for Type 1 diabetes, and nearly $150,000 in donations the past three years.
Luther and his family will be special guests of the Wood Brothers this weekend, but they won’t be the only new faces in the team hauler.
Sprint Cup veteran crew chief Donnie Wingo comes over from Roush Fenway Racing to lead the effort in preparing the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion. He replaces David Hyder, who left the team last week by mutual agreement with the Woods.
Driver Bill Elliott said he’s ready to go to work with Wingo, who got his first Cup win as a crew chief back in 1990 when an old friend of the Woods – and one of their former drivers – Morgan Shepherd won at Atlanta.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Elliott said. “It’ll be a different page in the book, probably a different feel in the car, but Donnie’s been around a long time, and he brings a lot of knowledge to the table.
“I’m sure there will be some unknowns at first, but we’ll just have to go in there with our heads up and see how it goes.”
Qualifying for the Bank of America 500 is set for 7:10 p.m. on Thursday, and the race is scheduled to get the green flag just past 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on ABC.