THE SEVENTH MAN
For fifteen years, a part he’d been,
of the Wood Brothers’ Twenty-One.
Glen and Leonard, Delano and Ray
and he, the fifth brother, named Clay.
Glen could drive with the best,
in ‘58 he’d passed the test.
From the mid-sixties until 1980,
the team’s wins were legendary.
The best they were in years gone by,
and ‘till this day they still do try.
Their pit stops were filmed and timed,
their winning form other teams mimed.
Clay and Ralph changed the rear tires with haste,
so the “Silver Fox” or Cale could win the race.
He stepped down when nephews filled his shoes,
their time had come to make the news.
They were “Handsaw” and “Hacksaw” to him,
though Eddie and Len they had always been.
Like his brother Ray Lee before,
he retired when the best they were for sure.
Victorious times were oft recalled,
in photos or them that lined the walls.
A golden wrench upon his wall,
a tribute to greatness once and for all.
So it was, when he left the team,
to pursue yet another dream.
With money from racing, he bought his place,
in the Blue Ridge Mountains, for from the race.
The mechanic in him kept his ‘54
Jeep a running for mountain chores.
He got stumped once or twice,
and sought the “Top Wrench” for advice.
Leonard was the best mechanic he ever saw,
brother or not, he was in awe.
Like his dad before, a talent handed down,
honed to perfection, then racetrack bound.
He became their number one fan, he
the former Twenty-One man.
To cheer them on, or share their pain,
win or lose, he knew the game.
One more time he joined the crew, in
July of ‘87 at Pocono.
To roll the tire for Leonard to change,
So Kyle Petty could make some gain.
So proud was he on that day,
of the little part he had to play.
To be a member of the team,
that still at heart he’d always been.
Grover saw him in the Martinsville crowd,
gave him the Citgo cap he wore around.
He no longer felt out of place,
he didn’t know then this was his last race.
When the season ended in ‘89,
Clay was beckoned, it was his time.
Neatly folded and stored away,
were the clothes he had worn each race day.
Including the shoes that carried him through, when
their team was the Champion Pit Crew.
Remember the shirt “Tex” gave to him?
The light blue one, now worn thin.
And the wood stove from Junior, he’d used at his cabin?
To make biscuits and gravy with all the trappings.
And remember the next time you’re on pit road,
the race car ready, along with the crowd.
And again when you hear that tumultuous roar,
of engines started for one more.
From a vantage reserved not for all,
He’ll be with all the way.
The Seventh Man over the wall -
His name is Clay...