The post today by TooMuchCountry about Richard Petty winning at Richmond on Nov. 14, 1971, 40 years ago today, had a newspaper clip of the event that recounted a name I haven't heard in years, but if you were trackside in the NASCAR garage or pits in the 60s-80s, you would know the name. It was BILLY WOOD . Please look at the story link posted by TMC and you'll see how Billy had the "hex" on the field for Charlie Glotzbach at Richmond that day.
Billy was from Norfolk, VA. He had a learning disability, but tremendous knowledge of stock car racing. He showed up at tracks from Daytona to Dover. Teams would get Billy in the pits and pay him to "hex" the field for them. He looked fearsome standing trackside with a scary grimace on his face, making finger and hand signals at various cars as he "hexed" them. Stock Car Racing Magazine once did a feature piece on Billy. I wish somebody would find it and post it. He has become another part of our lost stock car racing heritage. My last memories of Billy before he died in 1991 at age 59 were of him being paid by Darrell Waltrip to hex various fields.
In addition to the mentionin the story posted by TMC on Richard's Nov. 14, 1971 Richmond win, I quickly found 3 other references to Billy, one a note of his passing, one a reference in a Tom Higgins column and one a full length newspaper story in the Wilmington, NC newspaper.
I am posting the short note of his passing and the links to the two stories. Anybody who remembers Billy and can access stories, please chime in.
October 11, 1991
By AL PEARCE
BILLY WOOD DIES
Hardly anyone in racing truly believed that Billy Wood could hex their car. But nobody was quite sure, for they'd seen unusual things happen to those who doubted him. Wood, a native of Norfolk, was 59 when he died Tuesday following a long illness. For much of his life he embraced NASCAR racing, appearing everywhere from Dover to Daytona Beach, and from Langley in Hampton to Talladega.
He had a learning disability and wasn't schooled, but had an unfailing memory for racing trivia and statistics. Wood's favorite driver was whoever slipped him $5 or $10 (later, as inflation rose, $20 or $50) to keep him from jinxing their car.
Billy Wood Story Links:
From The Wilmington, NC Star News
From the book Dale Earnhardt: Rear View Mirror
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
updated by @dave-fulton: 01/14/20 04:14:20PM