One of the perks of this job is that my staff and I get the opportunity to meet some bona-fide legends of motorsports. I’m not saying that to be boastful in any way, shape, or form. It just happens that the job requires us to appear in places which are often accessible only with special passes, permission, clearance, and so on. The reason could be both editorial or advertiser driven but regardless, our presence in these spots often result in some pretty cool experiences.
One such experience happened this past Saturday night. Well, it was this past Saturday night when I am writing this on July 8. Don’t you just love magazine lead times? I know I do. Anyway, I was at the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway roaming up and down the starting grid when I ran into John Moore (he’s the photographer who shot the Aug. ’13 cover of Circle Track). Moore asked me if I had ever met Leonard Wood, who unbeknownst to me was standing right behind me. I had not so John introduced us. Leonard is, of course, one half of the renowned Wood Brothers Racing team, a team that has been winning NASCAR Cup races since its inception more than 60 years ago.
After the traditional how-do-you-dos, the conversation, not surprisingly, turned technical in nature. After all, there I was talking to one of NASCAR’s most innovative crew chief/mechanics. He told me how, years ago, he modified an Edelbrock intake by literally cutting it into quarters, porting what he deemed needed porting and then welding everything back together. After some slick re-dressing and bolting it back to the engine, it looked bone stock. Interestingly the company had told Wood that the fixes he wanted to perform were impossible to accomplish using conventional porting tools. Yet he found a way.
Turns out, Wood was particularly adept at modifying intakes. He went onto explain how the old Ford intakes had a dogleg in one of the runners to accommodate the distributor, which of course was on the front of the engine. This impeded the flow so his solution was to fabricate a longer distributor shaft, then straighten and shape the runner to his desired requirements. The distributor would then sit up above the runner.
In addition to some back in the day stories, Leonard gave me some insight into his latest little project. He’s building a replica of a vintage Lotus Indycar. But get this, it’s going to be small scale…about the size of a golf cart so that kids can drive them around. I told him to keep me posted as to its progress and we’ll do a little piece on it in Circle Track. While he didn’t give me a completion date he promised to keep us in the loop. Good thing too because I want one to drive around the office parking lot!
Until next time,
Go fast and turn left.