As one of the most successful long standing racing organizations in NASCAR with Ford Motor Corporation, the Wood Brothers have campaigned 20 of NASCAR’s greatest. That list includes Curtis Turner, Tiny Lund, Fireball Roberts, Bob Welborn, Dale Jarrett, A.J. Foyt, Glen Wood, Buddy Baker, Marvin Panch, Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Ned Jarrett, Fred Lorenzen, David Pearson, Joe Weatherly, Ralph Earnhardt, Neil Bonnett, Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin, and Bill Elliott.
The 1976 Mercury was driven by David Pearson. Better known as the “Silver Fox”, Pearson had some of NASCAR's most memorable finishes. It's been said the final lap of the 1976 Daytona 500, with Pearson battling Richard Petty for the lead and finally taking his only win at Daytona, despite both crashing into one another, is one of the most memorable moments in NASCAR history.
Pearson entered 572 races of which he won 105 and placed within the top five 301 times. Pearson also won the NASCAR Winston Cup Championship in 1966, 1968 & 1969 and had a higher percentage of wins than Richard Petty during that period. The Purolator Mercury was built by the Wood Brothers in their shop in Stuart, Virginia and were well known for their long standing relationship with Ford Motor Company and being the oldest active team in NASCAR.
Along the way they created one of NASCAR's greatest finishes. In the 1976 Daytona 500, Pearson and Petty ran nearly side by side coming out of the last turn. They bumped. Both cars hit the wall and spun down all the way into the infield. Petty ended up in front, not 100 yards from the finish, but his car stalled. Pearson got his going, drove up through the grass and made it back onto the track just in time to cross the finish line.
Everybody agrees on the two iconic car numbers in NASCAR. One is Petty's 43. The other is Earnhardt's 3. The third, if you're an old-school race fan, is the Wood Brothers' 21. Lots of other big-name drivers have run that car for the Wood Brothers - Bill Elliott, Kyle Petty, Neil Bonnett, Dale Jarrett. But the 21 car draws most of its legend from Pearson.