Wood Brothers’ Eddie Wood remembers Junie Donlavey as friend first, competitor second

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Remembrance and mourning continues for former NASCAR team owner Junie Donlavey, who passed away Monday at the age of 90.

Among the latest to recall the impact of Donlavey upon the sport, as well as the kind of man and friend he was to many, is Wood Brothers co-owner Eddie Wood.

“Anything you needed, he’d help you,” Wood said. “He was one of the most well-liked people in the garage ever.”

Donlavey and the Woods were lifelong friends first, competitors second. Virginia natives, Donlavey was from the state capital of Richmond, while the Woods hailed from tiny Stuart in the southern part of the state.

Racing Fords was their common thread, but it was only a part of the true friendship and bond that Donlavey and the Woods shared.

“You could call his shop any hour of the night and he’d answer on the first ring,” said Wood, who ironically shared the same April 8 birthday as Donlavey.

The two would talk almost every day, Wood added.

“Sometimes we’d talk about racing, but a lot of those late-night conversations were about life in general, just friends talking,” he said.

Wood fondly recalls Donlavey’s lone Cup win as a team owner as if it were yesterday – when it actually occurred 33 years ago in 1981 at Dover International Speedway.

Short track driver Jody Ridley somehow found a way to get by Neil Bonnett, who had dominated the race, to go on and take the checkered flag for Donlavey.

“We were as happy for them as if we’d won the race,” Wood said.

In an ironic twist, the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford Fusion that will compete in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway will carry a Quick Lane Blue paint scheme that had been in place prior to Donlavey’s death, but also closely resembles a similar paint scheme that used to grace Donlavey-owned cars.

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Plans revealed for upgraded Circuit Gilles Villeneuve pit complex

Société du parc Jean‑Drapeau
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Plans for the upgraded pit and paddock complex at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada, have been unveiled ahead of their completion in time for the 2019 Formula 1 race.

The Canadian Grand Prix signed a new long-term F1 contract running to 2029 earlier this year, with a commitment to improving the outdated pit facilities at the circuit, built in 1988.

In a press conference earlier this week, further details and artist renderings were revealed for the CA$48 million project by the Société Parc Jean‑Drapeau.

A new glass structure will become the main pit complex, covering three levels to accommodate the teams, media and hospitality guests.

The construction work will commence at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in July 2018 – one month after next year’s Canadian Grand Prix – and be completed two months prior to the 2019 race.

Photo: Société du parc Jean‑Drapeau
Photo: Société du parc Jean‑Drapeau