Labor of Love: Wood Restores Legendary No. 21 Mercury for Final Run at Darlington
DARLINGTON, S.C. (April 16, 2008) – It started with a simple phone call in March from Darlington Raceway to Wood Brothers’ Racing.
The proposition: restore the No. 21 Purolator Mercury from the Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum to working order and get David Pearson back in the seat to turn a few laps around Darlington in the car he made famous.
The legendary race car is in fact, the same machine in which Pearson won his first race with the Wood Brothers and also recorded 11 out of 18 wins in 1973.
Although on the surface it seemed like a wild idea it was not all that far fetched. After all, if there was one person who could get the car running after being on display for over 30 years it was Leonard Wood.
“When they came to me with the idea I was a little skeptical at first, it had been over 30 years since the car had been cranked,” said Wood. “After thinking about it, I knew seeing David in the No. 21 at Darlington one more time would make the restoration worth it.
“With the history David has at Darlington – holding the track’s career victory record with 10 – it just made sense that we try to get the car going for this event.”
Everyone was excited to see the 1971 Ford Mercury back in the Wood Brother’s shop in Stuart, Virginia.
Wood went to work right away first taking a look at the motor on the 37 year-old machine.
To his surprise the motor turned very easily, even after sitting idle for over 30 years. After getting the motor started it quickly became obvious that the radiator needed major repair.
Not to be discouraged, Wood headed to the second level of his race shop and returned quickly with the parts necessary to fix the radiator.
Next Wood went to work repairing and restoring the clutch, fuel lines and brakes.
“This project has been more involved than I would have ever thought,” said Wood. “I have enjoyed every minute that I have spent restoring on this car, it has brought back so many great memories for me and my family.”
Eddie Wood recalled taping gum to the dash of Pearson’s famed No. 21 when he was younger.
“David was very particular about what kind of gum he had and how it was taped,” recalled Eddie. “It was always Wrigley’s Spearmint gum in the foil wrapper, one piece for every 100 miles in the race.”
When the car arrived at Darlington Raceway on Wednesday morning there were five pieces of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum taped to the dash, just in case Pearson did not want to stop running after only a few laps. Carl Edwards and David Pearson at Darlington Raceway
Don’t miss your chance to see another incredible finish at Darlington Raceway when the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series take on the track “Too Tough to Tame” in the Dodge Challenger 500 on May 10, 2008. The racing action kicks off with the NASCAR Nationwide Series Diamond Hill Plywood 200 on May 9th. Order your tickets now by calling 1-866-459-RACE or logging onto http://www.racetickets.com.
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