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April 26, 2024

Family mindset continues for Wood Brothers Racing as third generation takes on co-ownership role

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — A No. 21 Ford rests inside the Wood Brothers Racing garage. More than half a dozen tool drawers — donned in the iconic red and white that usually adorns Wood Brothers machines — surround the building’s interior. Race banners hanging up high signify some of the more memorable chapters in the team’s near-75-year history. History worth remembering for NASCAR’s oldest team.

Jon Wood, Jordan Wood Hicks and Keven Wood converse inside the well-shaded confines. A keen sense of optimism is prevalent among the trio. And while the April temperature gives off summer-is-in-the-air vibes, the general mood between the three individuals shines as bright as the weather outside.

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This optimism doesn’t solely derive from the trio’s family pride in being a part of the Wood Brothers’ legacy dating back to childhood. It also comes from what lies ahead. Jon Wood is taking over Team President duties from his father Eddie Wood, who is stepping down from day-to-day duties. Jon, Jordan and Keven are team co-owners, a third generation that follows the second-generation group of Eddie, Len Wood and Kim Wood Hall.

“We’re really excited. We’re honored. I think it’s awesome,” Jordan said. “I know it’s such a big honor, and it’s something we’ve all wanted for a long time. Not that we’ve pushed anything, but it’s something that this is our legacy. This is our family legacy. We want to continue it, we want to create these relationships within the industry, and I think this is such a big part of that.”

Wood Brothers’ lineage can be traced back to 1950 when family patriarch Glen Wood – grandfather to Jon, Jordan, and Keven – founded the team. From that point onward, the team rocketed to momentous heights, with drivers spanning from Glen himself to Cale Yarborough and David Pearson, among other icons, piloting the Wood Brothers moniker.

From past to present, family has remained the team’s backbone. Glen and Leonard Wood – Glen’s younger brother – originally transitioned ownership to Eddie, Len and Kim, Glen’s children.

“The way our family business has been structured forever is nobody really had titles,” Jon said. “We all just kind of chipped in and did what we’re good at individually, and as a collective, everything got done. There wasn’t really a structure of titles tied to any single one of us.”

Although the trio might be “new” to the ownership position, they are anything but when it comes to working wherever the family business needs assistance. Jon and Jordan have experience in marketing, with Jordan working the social media accounts during race weekends. Keven has additionally assisted his dad in day-to-day operations.

Learning the tricks of the family trade – and the values that come from it – is one major lesson the trio wishes to continue as they take on control.

“Whenever you talk about the Wood Brothers, they did deals with a handshake, and that handshake was stronger than any contract, so that’s what I want to be able to continue, and when people come to us, and we start trying to do a business venture, our word’s our bond,” Keven said. “If we say we are going to do something, we do it, and that’s what I want to bring into this generation.”

“There’s obviously day-to-day stuff that we learn as we go on, but the biggest thing for me is their loyalty, the way that they treat people, the respect that they have in the industry, based off of who they are, their morals, their values of what they are about,” Jordan said. “I think that’s why our race team has continued as long as it has is because of the relationships that they’ve built, and you can’t do that. You can’t build relationships that last 50 years if you’re not respectful and loyal. That is the biggest thing they’ve always taught us is when you go into any type of decision, loyalty first and respect.”

Jon wishes to build on his father and grandfather’s accomplishments as president. Personal experience plays a part, too — like his grandfather, Jon has racing experience on his resume, with 208 combined races in the national series (2001-08) and two Truck Series wins.

WATCH: NASCAR Classics: Wood Brothers’ iconic wins

This experience, in addition to driving sponsors and guests around the track 15-20 years ago, helped give Jon an avenue to illustrate what it means to be in a driver’s shoes.

“So I always thought, if you only knew how hard this was when you multiply by 100 from what you just felt,” Jon said. “Until you’ve been a driver and felt that and experienced it, you can’t really relate. You can’t really put it into words, and so that experience helps me appreciate it from their perspective and understand it.”

One particular race banner — that of Ryan Blaney’s 2017 Pocono Raceway victory — adorns those same garage walls. And the significance of the victory remains felt — the June 11 win that season remains the most recent Cup victory for the race team to date.

Looking back at past victories and memories continues to evoke competitive drive in the fight toward win No. 100. Harrison Burton is currently in his third year of racing full-time in the No. 21.

Harrison Burton stands on the grid

“Honestly, my fondest memories at the track was when we won the Daytona 500 with Trevor Bayne, and seeing my grandfather in Victory Lane, and also my parents, my dad and my aunt and my uncle because that was one of their biggest victories because they had gone so long without winning,” Jordan said. ” … they had gone that long and it was almost like, for them, it was like, OK, this is us showing that we can do this. We’re back.

“Same thing with that 100th win. I think that it just shows that we aren’t going anywhere. We’re here to stay. I think, more than anything, that’s also what this change in the roles and the titles and kind of handing a little bit over to our generation shows that we’re not going anywhere.”

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Every new position comes with a learning curve. This remains true for Jon, Jordan and Keven, who will continue to work together as they adjust to life as co-owners.

“My grandpa instilled a lot of values in my dad and my uncle that I know have contributed to the longevity of the team, and it’s not a competitive nature,” Jon said. “It’s not go out, spend the most money, hire the most expensive driver, win every weekend. It’s treat people right, be respectful, stay humble and that sort of mindset I feel like is the very reason we’re the oldest team in NASCAR.”

As such, the trio is eager to continue a legacy built heavily on respect, communication and above all else, family.

“I think it’s pretty admirable that we’ve been able to exist this long, and not just exist but to thrive, and it be a sole family business,” Jon said. “A lot of family businesses fail for that very reason. There’s jealousy, there’s a lot of hurt feelings, there’s distrust and none of that exists with this group. My grandpa started this mindset, and now, I see it. The second generation went out of their way to treat each other equally and to make sure the three of us treat each other equally, and we’re all on the same platform. Somebody’s got to be the boss, I guess, and in that sense, it is what it is.

“We all consider ourselves the same, and I’m not going to say you leave your feelings at the door because we never really fight to begin with. We just get along, and we know the key to making this business continue and last is being able to trust each other and consider ourselves equals.”