Plenty of us discovered new hobbies and practiced new skills while we were tucked away in quarantine this past year-and-change, but I highly doubt any of us picked up a project as cool of that of Leonard Wood, co-founder of NASCAR’s Wood Brothers Racing team. This man decided to build a half-scale model of a 1967 427 Ford engine—because why the hell not?
This engine was originally derived from the Galaxie, but it went on to become what powered the Ford Mk. IV driven by Dan Gurney and A. J. Foyt to victory at Le Mans. It’s an iconic engine, and Leonard Wood decided he’d grab a block of solid aluminum, print off some photos, run some measurements, and set to work with the premise that, if Wood could make it by hand, he’d do it.
Yes. Leonard Wood hand-crafted a scale engine from hand, occasionally using nothing but a Google image.
The saga was laid out by the Wood Brothers Racing Twitter account. You should check out the whole thread for some incredible details about the story:
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Wood did it all solo, despite having access to, y’know, NASCAR engineers and a serious race shop—because how else would building a scale engine be a challenge if it weren’t done by hand?
Take the time to run through the full thread, because the progress pictures are amazing. Wood even made his own stand to display it on, because crafting the engine alone simply wouldn’t do. I mean, if you’ve gone through all the other effort, you might as well cap it off.
The engine has had a little tour since then. It headed off to the Henry Ford museum for the Driven to Win: Racing in America exhibit, then to Darlington Raceway for NASCAR’s throwback weekend.
The handmade engine is something of a lost art, but it's always incredible to see it alive and well within the racing world.