Rutledge Wood is reporting from Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis tonight for NBC Sports. He first started reporting with NASCAR, helped bring Top Gear to the United States, and spends his time at home in Atlanta with his three daughters and an impressive car collection.
Here’s everything you need to know:
1. He Grew up in Alabama, Where His Dad Instilled in Him a Love of Cars
Rutledge Wood was born in Birmingham, Alabama on April 22, 1980. His family wasn’t wealthy, but moved to a nice area to be near better schools.
“My parents [Bill and Claudia Wood] made the Birmingham News in ’80 or ’81, I think, because they were one of the first couples that bought a really old beat-up house and spent every weekend working on it and cleaning up,” Wood told AL.com. “I think I’m wrapped in a swaddling blanket in the newspaper article, I was a wee babe. At the time, we could have lived a lot better somewhere else, but school zones were so important to my parents, that’s why they found the only house they could afford, which was a beat-up old house on Euclid Avenue, so that we would be in a better school system there in Mountain Brook.”
In 1995 his father, who worked for AT&T, was transferred to Peachtree City, Georgia, where Rutledge attended high school. He says he learned the business of buying, restoring, and selling cars from his dad.
Rutledge went on to graduate from the University of Georgia with a degree in marketing.
2. His Career In TV Started Almost Accidentally
After college, Wood responded to a Craigslist ad for a national motorsports company who was looking for someone to do on-site marketing.
“And I thought, ‘Well, that’s me. It’s got to be me.’,” Rutledge told AL.com. “I had been a karaoke host, and done all this other stuff, and my first job … So I started in February of ’05 for what was the Speed Channel, and I just jumped in, because if you love cars, you can love this sport. And really, if you love people and you love events, NASCAR – It’s amazing. There’s nothing like it. It’s almost the only place you could go without food or shelter or something to drink and just meet people that would take you in for a weekend. You would have the time of your life. NASCAR would renew most people’s faith in humanity in just a few short days. It’s been crazy ever since then.”<
The job was a traveling job with the NASCAR circuit for Country Music Television. Shortly after, he started working for SPEED TV, which is now FoxSports 1. He covered NASCAR there for 10 seasons. He was a corresponded for NASCAR RaceDay and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and hosted various NASCAR shows including NASCAR Live, NASCAR Smarts, SPEED Road Tour Challenge, and the NASCAR Awards.
3. He’s a Features Reporter for NBC, Where he Covers More than Cars
Wood joined NBC Sports as a NASCAR analyst and specialty motorsports reporter in 2015. He contributes reports not only on races, but also towns, fans, and raceways, and their role in NASCAR’s success.
“I am lucky because they are going to let me go out and find the fun stories and get to talk to people,” he said to Life of Dad.
At Super Bowl LLII Wood will be part of the pre-game coverage, along with NASCAR’s 15-time most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wood will report on Earnhardt as he takes part in outdoor events and activities in Minneapolis ahead of the game. NASCAR drivers Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney will join in as well.
Wood will cover this year’s Olympics for NBC Sports. He also covered the 2016 Olympic Games, and worked as an event reporter for the Kentucky Derby.
4. He Helped Make Top Gear Popular in the United States
Wood was one of three hosts of Top Gear USA on the History channel. The show was based on the BBC series of the same name. In each episode, the hosts present, a secret driver tests vehicles, and celebrities drive vehicles and participate in interviews. There are also challenge segments. Tanner Foust, a professional racing driver, and Adam Ferrara, a comedian, also hosted the show, which ran from 2010 to 2016.
In May 2015, Wood began hosting a new show on History called Lost in Transmission. In it, he drove around Atlanta with his friend George Flanigan and fixed up classic cars.
“I came up with this idea because I have too many junky cars as it is. My wife would appreciate the fact that I wouldn’t bring any more home,” he told Life of Dad. So I thought I could help others with their cars that were special to them. I could live vicariously through them and their cars once I fixed it up. That is what I decided what we were going to do.
5. He Loves Food, His Family, and His Car Collection
Wood now resides in Atlanta with his wife, Rachel, and their three daughters.
His daughter Elsie and her class made a video in an attempt to get Taylor Swift to visit their class, and Wood promoted it on his Facebook page.
Wood was the host of Super Southern Eats on Food Network, and looks for local food whenever he travels.
“In the South, people love through food. From post-church Sunday suppers, to Lowcountry boils, to King cakes; food has always held a special place in the heart of southern families. And Rutledge’s family was no different,” his website says. “Having traveled the country, and world, for nearly 15 years working in TV, Rut has been fortunate enough to be able to combine two of his passions: food and travel! He’s been everywhere from the Nurburgring, Germany, to Reykjavik, Iceland; the Carolina Lowcountry to the frozen mountains of Alaska, Rutledge has seen it all. And he’s tried one of everything along the way!”
An avid car collector, Wood has a collection including a 1970 Dodge Charger and a 1949 Chevrolet 3100 Thriftmaster. He showed off his collection during the season two premier of Garage Tours.