WOODS CELEBRATES 37 YEARS MARRIED TO THE SAME OLDS
The affinity a racer can develop for a race car is amazing. Take Doug Wood, for example, who has been racing his 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass for 37 years.
"It's the first car I bought when I was 16 years old. I paid $800 dollars for it," said Wood, who broke into the racing world crewing and changing transmissions for his brother when he was 13 years old. "Everybody knows that car, from the East Coast clear out West. It's actually still the same color from the factory, Aztec Gold, with the black vinyl roof on it."
Given Wood's history racing the car at events throughout the country, it was only appropriate that he won his first NHRA national event with it, earning the Super Street title at this year's Lucas Oil NHRA Southernationals in Atlanta, an event he didn’t expect to attend.
"We didn’t enter the event until the Monday before. The divisional race in Indy the weekend before had rained out, and that was our first race of the year," said the Massillon, Ohio, resident. "We made a lot of changes to the car during the winter and were kind of skeptical about driving 13 hours one way to Atlanta with some fresh stuff, but we decided to go anyway. Then we get to Atlanta, it rains, and we get only one time trial, but after that it was picturesque. It was just great."
Although it took Wood 15 years to win his first NHRA Super Street national event, he's no stranger to winner's circle celebrations.
"I've been a diehard IHRA racer since 1987 and have won 7 IHRA national events," said Wood. "I've also finished in the top 10 at least a dozen times, and during my best outing, in 2009, we finished No. 2 in the Hot Rod standings."
Still, Wood is happy to have finally scored the once-elusive NHRA win.
"It was the pinnacle. It was the best. NHRA treat's you so well," he said. "To this day, I still get congratulated. At every track I've been to, at least half a dozen people have come up to talk about it."
When not at the track, Wood works as a forensics vehicle specialist for Standards Testing Lab, the largest independent tire and wheel testing firm in North America.
"We have a division called Trans Tech, where we reproduce accident scenes caused by tire failure," he said. "I buy the vehicle, prep it, and look at the incident vehicle to see if something else caused the accident other than tire failure.
"I've been here for 22 years. I left a Chevrolet dealership I had been at for 12 years. The owner of this company got back into sprint car racing and he needed a crew chief. I needed a sponsor, so we made a deal: I'd come work for him and he would sponsor my car. Unfortunately, he passed away in the early 2000s, but his son, who took over, kept my deal. They've been sponsoring me since 1992."
Standards Testing Lab has also made it possible for Wood to have his crew chief with him at the track.
"My wife, Tina, works here, too; she is a purchasing agent. They let us go racing," said Wood. "She has been beside me since Day 1. She is my crew chief and does all the setup of the car, all the weather."
For the time being, Wood plans to continue racing in Super Street and behind the wheel of the same car.
"This is the 40th year I've owned the car, and I don’t plan to get rid of it," he said. "I'm going to die in that car. They are going to use it as my casket to bury me in it."