UNOH Grad Jack of All Trades for JD Motorsports

Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2022


UNOH Graduate Gabe Wood

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer, Kickin’ The Tires (

CONCORD, N.C. – Often on small NASCAR teams crew members will fill in on multiple roles both in the race shop and at the track week in and week out. Though, JD Motorsports’ Gabriel (Gabe) Wood, no relation to the Wood Brothers, may have taken that to another level.

Humble Beginnings

Wood is currently the fueler (only at Portland for Gray Gaulding), tire specialist, and the underneath mechanic on Ryan Vargas’ No. 6 Chevrolet Camaro SS.

Long before Wood worked for JD Motorsports, or even public relations for a sponsor, he worked construction, picked watermelons, just earning money. Those first jobs for the University of Northwestern Ohio graduate helped him raise enough money for a sim racing computer and a sim racing wheel.

“That’s actually how I got my first sim racing computer was I was a farmhand and I saved up my money,” Wood recalled. “My first wheel, from GameStop, was a Logitech Driving Force GT.”

Taking Pride in One’s Work

In addition to the at-track work Wood does for JD Motorsports, he also builds the rear-end of the No. 6 Chevrolet Camaro SS at the Gaffney, S.C. race shop.

Gabe Wood has made a career of being a 'jack of all trades' in the NASCAR Xfinity Series garage.

Though most weeks the underfunded team is fighting for a top-20 or top-25, several times a year their hard work is on full display. At both superspeedways this year, when there was qualifying, Vargas qualified the No. 6 in eighth, seventh, and 10th, beating many multi-million-dollar teams.

“It’s the pride of seeing something that I put together go on the racetrack,” Wood admitted. “Talladega is so great because friction is one of the biggest things. You’re stuck with what you got horsepower, you’re stuck with what you have gear–wise.

“It is good that the rear end that I put together, when I’m at the shop I put I put all of our rear gears together for the No. 6 car, that it is fast and it makes it through the race.”

The 24-year-old was a spotter at Daytona International Speedway for Tim Richmond and at Watkins Glen International. He’s even made the trip North of the border into Canada to spot for William Hale.

One Man, One Crew

At Pocono Raceway, Wood was the fueler for another UNOH grad Stephanie Moyer’s No. 01 Toyota Camry. During the controlled pit stop, the jackman was nowhere to be found. So, Wood assumed the role, raising the car, hanging the tires, and fueling the car. He has also worked as the fueler on the No. 44 ARCA Menards Series car.

Controlled pit stops in ARCA provides teams with five minutes to get all work done. Teams typically do not lose positions or laps on pit road during controlled stops.

Despite Wood assuming multiple roles on that pit stop, Moyer did not lose positions on track.

The Valdosta, GA native has also served as a crew chief in four ARCA races on Andy Hillenburg-owned cars in 2017 and 2018.

Making Fans for Life

Wood is quick to make some fans ‘fans for life’ of him, and JD Motorsports. Following Brennan Poole’s crash in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, he cut small sections of sheet metal off the remains of the car for some kids. He was quick to make sure the pieces were small enough for their flight home.

“I noticed these kids hanging around and I’m like, ‘you guys want anything?'” Wood remembered. “I cut the ‘Goodyear’ off the car, gave that to the first kid and his mom was like ‘that’ll be big enough.’ I was just cutting it manually and I cut two smaller pieces and I thought the kids were going to be disappointed. But the mom said, ‘oh, that’s perfect they’ll fit on the airplane.’

“The kid goes, ‘well, I could put it in my backpack. Then I can bring it to show and tell.’ The kids got all excited.”


Away from the real-life track, Wood has also made a name for himself. He competes regularly in CORE, Monday Night Racing, and the Untitled Friends League on iRacing.

Wood has won two races in Monday Night Racing, one in the 1987 NASCAR Cup cars at Michigan International Speedway and one in the Porsches at the Homestead-Miami Speedway Road Course. He also has two wins in the iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona, one of which he co-drove with Vargas, Colby Howard, and Leighton Sibille.

Well before Wood made a name for himself as a driver in various iRacing leagues he also worked as a commentator for LSRTV in 2014. He worked alongside Cisco Scaramuzza, who is now working for iRacing.

When thinking about the multiple jobs that Wood has had in the industry, he had to stop and count. Between both real-life and virtual racing, the Valdosta, GA native can account for at least fulfilling nine different job roles throughout his career.

“Tire specialist, fuel guy, tire carrier, jack man on one pit stop, amateur graphics designer, crew chief, spotter, iRacing spotter, iRacing crew chief,” Wood joked.

Having Fun

Though Wood is quick to say that working on a team in NASCAR is the best job that he’s ever had, he’s honest about it. Having given advice to others before, he wants others who’ve asked to know what they’re in for.

“When people say it’s just a fun job, it is, but it’s also hard,” Wood explained. “I don’t recommend it for anybody that’s not really into it and I tell people whenever they want to get a job in racing, you’ve got to know what you’re in for. Don’t be afraid to get yelled at because you’re going to get yelled at.”

Where It All Started

Today, Wood is still surprised that he is where he is. The small-town native never expected to be in NASCAR, let alone stay in the sport after his first opportunities faded away.

“I’ll be honest, when I was in high school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Wood admitted. “Then, UNOH became an option to me. I asked my mom and dad and they’re like, well, tuition’s only $30,000 for the whole program. My mom was like yeah, if that’s what you want to do. I didn’t really think anything was going to happen immediately and within three days of being there, (UNOH) is talking about the ARCA Club, the race club, I’m like okay? 

“They said, here’s a number of this guy. Well, turns out it’s ARCA champion Andy Hillenburg. I had no idea who the hell he was. I started researching the guy, turns out I researched the wrong guy. There’s two Andy Hillenburgs. One from Oklahoma and one from Indianapolis. So that was kind of awkward at first.

“Once I got through ARCA and I started working at PR job and then I lost it, I thought I was done racing because unfortunately you stay out of the scene for a little while you kind of lose your contacts, but I ended up back in it. It’s just it’s kind of cool for people back home to message me or whenever I ended up going back home and they say, ‘man, you’ve got like the best job.’

“I’m like, ‘hey, you don’t do my job, so it’s not that great,’ but to them it’s cool and to me that makes it cool.”

Staying Humble

Although Wood wears many different hats, so do crew members on many other underfunded teams. As with every person, his story is common, like many of his friends in the industry. Though like others, his story has some unique twists and turns.

“I’m not different than anyone else on any other underfunded team,” Wood pointed out. “We all wear multiple hats and there are tons of people that can do it better than me. I just enjoy doing whatever I can.”

From Andy Hillenburg to public relations and now JD Motorsports, Wood has just about done it all with more to come.

Next for Wood is the Alsco Uniforms 302 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 15 at 3:00 p.m. on NBC.

The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.


Category: Applied Technologies

Keywords: Gabe Wood, High Performance Motorsports, ARCA

Press Contact

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Last updated: 10/12/2022