In choosing a paint scheme based on the Wood Brothers’ 1963 Ford Galaxie for the throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 6, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team is honoring some of the team’s well-known accomplishments and one of its least-known – a Cup Series owners championship. And that fits perfectly with Darlington’s theme this year which is honoring series champions, past, present and future.
The original ’63 Galaxie, painted white on the top and red on the bottom, was the one driven to victory by Tiny Lund in the 1963 Daytona 500, one of NASCAR’s most memorable races. It also was driven by the late team founder Glenn Wood in his last win as a Cup driver, at Bowman Gray Stadium on July 13, 1963. Marvin Panch, who returned to the ’63 Galaxie after being severely burned in a sports car crash prior to the Daytona 500, also won in it, at North Wilkesboro on Sept. 29, 1963.
The rugged and versatile Ford, which was run on Superspeedways, road courses and quarter-mile short tracks, was the workhorse as the Wood Brothers won the 1963 car owner’s championship, the only Cup Series title in the Wood Brothers’ 70-year history in the sport.
In 1963, the driver’s title was won by Joe Weatherly, who ran 53 races driving for nine different owners, none of whom earned enough points to take the owners title. He won three races, scored 20 top-five and 35 top-10 finishes.
The Wood Brothers, who did not run a full schedule in that era, took the owners championship with 23 starts, scoring three wins, 16 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes. They used five different drivers – Wood, Lund, Panch, Dave MacDonald and Fred Lorenzen.
Lorenzen rolled the car in practice for its first race, at Riverside, Calif. After some at-track repairs, he drove it to a 22nd-place finish, leading eight laps before the engine expired. MacDonald drove it in the fall race at Riverside, leading a race-high 92 laps before finishing second to Darel Dieringer.
The championship trophy bears the name of the late Ray Lee Wood, brother of the team founder and a long-time crew member on the No 21 Ford.
Glenn Wood explained in a 2017 interview that his brother’s name on the trophy is an example of the team’s legendary frugal ways.
“You had to buy a different license for the driver and the car owner,” he said. “So instead of buying two in my name I put one in Ray Lee’s. I saved ten dollars by doing it, but ten dollars was a good bit of money back then.
“It was my car, but it’s his name on the trophy.”
The original car was turned back in to Holman-Moody at the end of the 1963 season and exchanged for a new model, but the team has recreated the original car and has the replica on display at its museum in Stuart, Va.
Matt DiBenedetto, who would like to win the Woods their second Cup title and his first, said that like many in the sport he was unaware of the Woods’ 1963 championship before he heard about it during a recent visit to the museum in Stuart.
“It’s a pretty cool story,” DiBenedetto said. “Panch got hurt in a big crash then Tiny drove the car and won the Daytona 500. It’s a cool car with a lot of history that people either don’t know or don’t remember.”
— Wood Brothers Racing