If you know stock car racing then you’ve heard of Leonard Wood. He’s one-half of the Wood Brothers Racing co-founders and a NASCAR legend who pioneered quicker pit stops. Say you haven’t heard of him, though, and you’ve been lurking on Race Car Twitter—you almost certainly saw his magnificent half-scale V8, then.
The delightfully miniature engine modeled after a 427-cubic-inch Ford was shared around the web for its impeccable attention to detail. Eighty-six-year-old Wood and his pal Bennie Belcher worked on the project during lockdown and while it technically wasn’t a running unit, they wanted to prove that the parts could indeed be operational. It was simple, then; Wood just put one of the teensy carbs on a full-size V8 and, wouldn’t you know it, it worked.
Wood had a spare Ford engine lying around and decided to top it with the tiny carb that he built using old-school methods. There was no CNC work here—apparently, the race team doesn’t even own a machine like that. Instead, Wood and Belcher used a lathe, a Bridgeport, and hand tools to make this all happen. For the valve cover, Leonard simply shaped a cutter from a lawnmower blade. There aren’t many like him out there anymore.
After taking a solid bar of aluminum and cutting it into workable pieces, Wood and Belcher marked on them with Sharpie to draft their cuts. With the base plate, carb bodies, and float bowls completed, they assembled them and brought in a regularly sized carb for comparison. As you can see, they’re tiny.
The Ford’s intake manifold looks like it’s wearing a super small hat, but it purrs along at idle like any other would. Don’t expect enough flow for it to run at full-throttle, at least on the full-size engine—we’re hanging on to hope that they’ll fire up the miniature soon enough. If anybody could do it from scratch, it’d be Leonard Wood.
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