Born: Sept. 22, 1934, at family farm near Stuart, Va.
Resides: Stuart, Va., and Charlotte.
Family: Wife Betty (deceased), daughter Beth, two grandchildren. His brother, Glen, was a 2012 inductee into the NASCAR Hall.
• Began racing in 1950, building and maintaining modified cars driven by his older brother, Glen.
• The Wood Brothers team, including brothers Delano, Clay, Ray Lee and sister Crystal, began winning almost right away at short tracks in Southwest Virginia and north-central North Carolina. The Woods were especially successful at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, a quarter-mile oval encircling a football field. It was Leonards idea to move the driver to the back seat to give their cars an edge. It looked weird, but it worked. The Woods claimed their first major victory during 1956, winning their class in the famed Beach & Road Race at Daytona Beach, Fla.
• The Woods again claimed their class at the beach in 1957, and placed second overall to winner Cotton Owens.
• From 1957 to 59, Leonard served in the Army.
• With Leonard preparing the cars, the Woods dabbled into the early 60s in NASCARs Grand National division, which has evolved into the Cup Series. Glen and Leonard went to a Cup Victory Lane for the first time April 18, 1960, when Glen edged Rex White in a 50-miler at Bowman Gray. The Woods teamed for two more big-time triumphs at the track that season.
• The Woods scored a victory that Leonard ranks as maybe our most memorable on Feb. 24, 1963, when Tiny Lund drove their No. 21 Ford to the Daytona 500 win. Regular driver Marvin Panch was badly injured when a Maserati he was testing flipped and burst into flames on the Daytona tracks road course. Trapped in the car, Panch was rescued by Lund and other bystanders. Leonard and Glen tapped Lund, who had no ride for the 500, to fill in for Panch. Lund won, edging Fred Lorenzen by three car-lengths. Credit for the victory went to crew chief Leonard, who had a strategy of making one less stop for fuel and not changing tires.
Leonards innovations revolutionized pit stops, reworking jacks, introducing air wrenches and changing gas cans.
• In 1968, a Leonard-led crew, with Cale Yarborough driving, won six times. Included were a sweep of the 500 and 400 at Daytona and 500-mile victories at Atlanta and Darlington, S.C. From 1965 to 1972, the Woods also fielded winners for A.J. Foyt, Curtis Turner, and Donnie Allison.
• David Pearson joined Glen and Leonard to drive the No. 21 Fords in 72. They proved to be one of the greatest teams ever. Running mostly superspeedway events, the combo triumphed 43 times. They won 11 of 18 starts in 73 and 10 of 22 in 76.
• In 1976, the Wood Brothers and Pearson won the Daytona 500 in a spectacular finish. Coming to the checkered flag, there was contact between the cars of Pearson and arch-rival Richard Petty. Both drivers spun into the grass not far from the finish. Pearson was able to get his car going and took the checkered flag at about 5 mph. I relive that finish regularly, says Leonard. I doubt well ever see anything like it again.
• From 1973 to 78, Pearson and the Woods won 11 straight Cup poles at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
• The Wood Brothers list 98 Cup series victories.
• The Wood Brothers also won races with drivers Neil Bonnett, Buddy Baker, Kyle Petty, Dale Jarrett, Morgan Shepherd, Michael Waltrip (in the all-star event), Elliott Sadler and Trevor Bayne.
• In 2012 Glen Wood was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Now Leonard is going to join him. They are the first brothers so honored.
Retired Observer motorsports writer and ThatsRacin.com contributor Tom Higgins on Leonard Wood:
I first saw him: At Bowman Gray Stadium in 1958, where the Woods often competed in weekly modified division races with Glen driving the cars engineered and set up by Leonard.
First impression: A pleasant, friendly man with an easy-going demeanor.
What people might not know about him: He is an avid astronomer, peering at the heavens through a telescope measuring 60 inches in length and 6 inches in diameter. He especially likes to check out comets and eclipses.
My favorite memory of him: Watching (on TV) as Leonard and teammates bounded about in unabashed delight when Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 in 2011. I couldnt watch the last laps, he recalls. I sat on the pit wall, looked at the ground and tried to figure what was going on by interpreting the cheering. I figured that Carl (Edwards), with his big edge in experience, would pass Trevor between the third and fourth turns. But when I heard our guys yelling, Stay low! Stay low! I knew Trevor was leading. I looked up to see him cross the line and from there I was jumping, flailing my arms and hollering because it was so fulfilling and unexpected. I just let go! Something Id never done before.
Most memorable quote: During the last lap of the 1976 Daytona 500 as Pearson and Petty collided on the homestretch. Leonard yelled to Pearson on the radio: Theres a crash off Turn 4! To which Pearson coolly replied, Yeah, I know. Im in it.