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Russ Wood

With more than three decades of experience driving race cars and managing race teams, Russ Wood knows answers to questions that many racers don’t even know to ask. Wood began driving as a youngster contending for national karting titles, and in a career that has led from there to NASCAR’s premier divisions, his skill as a pilot and chassis tuner has grown along with his reputation for getting the most from whatever resources are available.

Wood grabbed headlines with a phenomenal debut stock car season in 1979 at Odessa, Missouri’s I-70 Speedway, a screaming-fast combination of high banking and tight turns. Russ came away with the Rookie of the Year title, 4 feature wins, and a 3rd place in overall season points.

For the next 15 years Wood continued that success, and nearly 100 feature-event victories on both dirt and pavement tracks across the country attest to it. Wherever he traveled, Wood was the likely spoiler for the hopes of such dominant names from the 1980′s as Rusty Wallace, Larry Phillips, and Joe Kosiski. The trophy room was filling rapidly, but a horrifying crash at the Belleville, Kansas, Dirt Late Model Nationals in 1986 sidelined the driver with a serious back injury for most of the next two seasons – but never dampened his desire to race.

It was a long road back, but by the 90′s Wood had rebuilt his race team and healed completely. He was soon back to his winning ways around the state, in a variety of exploratory efforts designed to develop the Wood Racing organization.

In 1994, Wood headed south for NASCAR’s All-Pro Series, a touring division featuring late model stock cars at many of the nation’s most famous and historic short tracks: Bristol, Martinsville, Winchester, and South Boston, to name a few. The Wood Racing organization turned heads immediately, an independent team qualifying well, finishing consistently, and making clear their intention to compete for Rookie of the Year honors. Wood’s momentum and a series of strong runs at Bristol and other high-banked facilities attracted the attention of advertisers, Kendall Oil and the then-fledgling Papa John’s Pizza chain among them.

3rd in that year’s Rookie Championship, and 17th overall in driver points, Wood continued his run with All-Pro for the next two seasons. By the time he retired from the series after 1996, Wood had claimed a slew of top-ten finishes, nearly $100,000 in prize money, and hours of national TV exposure on ESPN and TNN for his sponsors.

The following years saw Russ return to local competition at tracks like I-70, bringing home top-5 finishes while helping to prepare his young son for the driver’s seat and a spot on the expanding Wood Racing roster. 2001 and 2002 were spent developing the younger Wood’s talents in IMCA modified events, with Russ supervising everything from team organization and budgets to chassis setups and race strategies.