|Bayne's candy apple red No. 21 Ford|
When Trevor Bayne pulls the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion onto the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next week, the Wood Brothers’ car will return to its original, iconic colors. The car will outfitted in the throwback colors to honor long-time crew chief and engine builder Leonard Wood and his election into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Wood’s picture appears on the hood of the car, along with the Hall of Fame logo.
Leonard, who still works with the family team, said that every time he walks by the car it catches his eye.
“It’s beautiful, really nice looking,” he said.
Being honored at the Brickyard has special meaning for the man many consider one of the smartest ever to walk through the gate of a NASCAR garage. At the 1965 Indianapolis 500, Wood and his family-based pit crew worked for Jim Clark, helping and Ford to their first win in open wheel racing’s premier event.
Eddie Wood, current co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing, said he has been fascinated with candy apple red -- based on the red caramelized sugar coating found on candied apples -- since he first saw it on his family’s race car as a boy.
“I was 11 years old then, about the age when I really started noticing a lot of the details of the race cars and how they were painted. I remember it well,” he said, adding that putting time, planning and detail into a paint scheme wasn’t as common in the early days of the sport as it is today.
It wasn’t just the Woods who had colorful cars in 1963. Ned Jarrett’s cars were painted candy blue, while Fireball Roberts’ cars were candy lavender. Tiny Lund drove a car painted candy tangerine and Fred Lorenzen’s Holman-Moody Ford was pearl white, another shade in the candy family. Several drivers, including Hall of Famers Jarrett and Glen Wood (brother of Leonard), ended their driving careers in cars painted in their respective candy colors.
|The original candy apple No. 21|
Wood, a serious student of the history of the sport, has long wondered about the origins of the candy colored paint schemes. To find out, he went straight to the source. He discovered contact information for former Director of Ford Racing Jacque Passino in his mother’s Christmas card list, picked up the phone, and gave him a call. Passino, now 91, answered on the first ring and was ready to talk.
“He said he was having trouble following his cars around the race track, because so many of them looked alike,” Wood said. “So he had them painted candy colors.”
Passino also told Wood that he worked with famed car customizer George Barris, who had done work for Ford on the paint schemes.
“I was delighted to get to talk to Mr. Passino and get the story from him,” Wood said. “It’s been a mystery to me for a long time.”
The original candy apple paint scheme was run in the series now known as Sprint Cup by four drivers; Marvin Panch, Dan Gurney, Dave MacDonald, and Glen Wood, who ran his final Cup race at Starkey, Va., with that color. Sonny Hutchins and Donnie Allison also drove a Wood Brothers Modified 1937 Ford Coupe painted candy apple red.
The Woods ran that paint scheme until the end of the 1966 season, then began painting their cars white on the bottom. They kept the candy apple red on top through the driving tenures of Curtis Turner and Cale Yarborough. In the days before decals and wraps, the Woods painted their numbers white, with the first version of the candy apple car featuring an orange border around the number. Leonard Wood didn’t like that particular look, so the border was changed to black for a time. Around 1964, a gold border was added.
Back in the day, painter Ophus Agnew applied the candy apple color to the Woods’ Fords. The latest paint job is the work of Mike “Andretti” Smith. Eddie Wood, who has done some painting himself in the past, said Smith nailed the paint job, which can be a difficult one.
“You never know how it’s going to come out,” he said. “It can be too dark or too light or have streaks, but it came out just perfect.”