L. D. Ottinger
Born: December 30, 1938
Home: Newport, Tenn
L.D. Ottinger is a former NASCAR Busch Series driver. He raced occasionally in the Winston Cup Series during his career. Driving the Black Diamond Coal #2 Chevy, he was a Champion in the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman series, predecessor of the Busch Grand National Series.
Ottinger made his major NASCAR debut in 1966, where he drove for Ken Carpenter at Smoky Mountain Raceway. He started 21st in the 29-car field, but finished 28th after a crash on lap 33.
Ottinger's next start came in 1973 at Bristol Motor Speedway. He drove the #45 Chevy for James Bryant. Starting from the 11th position, Ottinger made his way through the field to the 2nd position. His next start was at Talladega a few weeks later. Driving the #02 Lonesome Pine Raceway Chevy, Ottinger started 26th and finished 10th. At another race at Charlotte, Ottinger had to settle for a 27th place finish after his engine expired.
L.D. made four starts in 1974. However, L.D. did not finish any of the races and the best he could muster was a 25th at both Bristol events.
L.D. made his last Cup race in 1984, driving for Rod Benfield and the #98 Levi Garrett team, replacing the recently released Joe Ruttman for two races. He finished 21st and 22nd at Charlotte and North Wilkesboro Speedway, respectively.
Ottinger made his Busch debut in the series first year of 1982. He started 8th in the #84 Kelly Builders Chevy at Charlotte. He was only able to complete 155 laps before he crashed out of the event.
His runs from previous Cup and Busch starts earned Ottinger a full-time ride in 1984. Driving the #10 Schlitz Pontiac, L.D. qualified for 26 of the 29 races. Despite not making those three races, he made up for it with three poles at Daytona, Charlotte, and IRP. Racewise, he had 3 top-5s, with his best being a 3rd at Martinsville. Along with 7 other top-10s, L.D. earned a 7th place finish in points.
Ottinger was able to make all the races in 1985. Despite the fact that he had no poles or no wins, it was still a solid season. He matched his career best finish of 3rd, (Rockingham and Richmond. This led to 6th in the final points.
For 1986, Ottinger got funding from All Pro Auto Parts and moved over to the #2 Parker Racing team when CB Gwyn, owner of the #10 Pontiac team, sold the team to Parker. It resulted once again in a 6th place final showing, but in his first career win. It came at Langley Speedway, where he started fifth and dominated the race. In addition, Ottinger had 12 top-5s and twenty top-10s. His average start was a 10.5 and finish was 11.9, making it by far his best season.
In 1987, Ottinger fell to 9th in points. This was largely because of 9 DNFs. Also, Ottinger could only muster 6 top-5s and 10 top-10s. Despite that, Ottinger finished 2nd four times.
In 1988, Ottinger improved a little, but still finished 9th in the standings. He stayed in the #2, but had a new sponsor in Detroit Gasket. Once again, he did not win any races, but did earn his final Busch Series pole at Myrtle Beach. His best finish of the season was 2nd at Martinsville andLouisville Speedway. He had 5 top-5s and 11 top-10s.
Most important for Ottinger, he was able to return to victory lane in 1989, by virtue of winning the season finale at Martinsville. He had 7 top-5s and 16 top-10s, including a 2nd at Bristol. This improvement made a drastic rise in the standings for Ottinger, as he went to 4th in the final standings.
Ottinger won his final race at Bristol in 1990, in which it was marked by the violent crash of Michael Waltrip. However, the rest of his performance fell. He only managed 5 top-5s and 7 top-10s. Ottinger fell to 8th in the standings. Ottinger closed out his career with a 19th place finish at Daytona.
Ottinger made a return to the track in 2009 to compete in a legends race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Ottinger finished 3rd in a field of twelve competitors which included Rusty Wallace, Terry Labonte, Harry Gant, and race winner Sterling Marlin.
Achievements / Career
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
10 races run over 4 years
NASCAR (Xfinity) Busch Series career
206 races run over 10 years
NASCAR Grand National East Series career
1 race run over 1 year
1972 Maryville 200 (Maryville)
1972 Maryville 200 (Maryville)
Statistics current as of April 10, 2013.
L.D. Ottinger Remembers How NASCAR Racing Used To Be
Most racing fans readily admit that NASCAR isn't the same sport they grew up watching. The cars no longer resemble what you can drive off the dealership lot. Sitting idle are tracks that were the scene of some great racing. The real connection between the fans in the stands and the drivers is gone.
But it's the former competitors who helped make the sport who really see how much NASCAR has changed. Two-time NASCAR Late Model Sportsman champion L.D. Ottinger said he doesn't even go to races anymore.
"It's a whole different deal now. It's just a big business," said Ottinger, who was in town Saturday visiting the City Garage Car Museum on South Main Street. "The sponsors are a lot different. Everything about the racing is entirely different than it was when I raced."
Ottinger raced all over the United States, from the small bullrings of East Tennessee like his home track in Newport to the crown jewels of stock car racing such as Daytona.
He won the 1975 and 1976 NASCAR Late Model Sports championships, the forerunner of today's Nationwide Series.
"Back then we ran 50-60-70 races a year," said Ottinger. "We ran four or five times a week all over the county. We'd start out in California and end up in New England in a week. It was a great big deal."
And all that traveling wasn't done by private jet. "We rode the truck 90 percent of the time, probably," Ottinger said. "I flew some when I had to. Most of our traveling was done by car or the tow truck."
Unlike today's drivers, racing wasn't Ottinger's main occupation. He kept a full time job back home in Newport. "I worked for Stokely-Van Camp," he said. "They made Gatorade and were a big sponsor of NASCAR racing. Bill Stokely was a good friend of mine, so they helped me a lot. When I needed to be off to go racing, I got off and still got paid for it. A lot of people wondered why I didn't quit, but those people really helped me a lot."
Ottinger could have quit his job at Stokely-Van Camp because he was doing well enough. He even turned down full time rides in the Cup series with big teams because at the time it wasn't that much more lucrative than the second tier. That's all certainly changed. "Back then the money wasn't there like it is today," Ottinger said. "These guys today make more money in a year than I made in my whole career, probably. I got out just when the money got good in the early 90s."
But money wasn't Ottinger's primary goal in racing, anyway. He raced for the love of the sport. "I always loved racing," he said. "I started when I was just a kid. My dad took me to the dirt tracks back in the early days. I've always liked cars. I've had cars since I was 10 or 12 years old. It was just a thrill to me to get to drive a car."
Ottinger didn't just drive the car, for most of his career he did it all. "Ninety percent of these guys today have never worked on a race car," Ottinger said. "They just get in it and drive. They don't know what it's like to build them and keep them going. When we raced, I owned my own cars for years and had to build them and work on them. We did the whole deal. I paid the bills. The guys today don't know what that's all about. They just get in the cars and go race."
There's no way of knowing exactly how many race wins Ottinger collected over the years. NASCAR's records for the Nationwide Series only go back to 1982 when the series got its first title sponsor. Ottinger himself doesn't even know. "Not right off, I don't," he said. "We never really kept records back then. It was really just no big deal to keep that. I wish I had now. I never knew it would turn out like it did today."
Ottinger doesn't even go to track today. He said the last Cup race he attended was at North Wilkesboro, which hasn't hosted an event in well over a decade. Ottinger stays busy restoring old cars and keeps four to six on hand at any given time. He did visit Bristol Motor Speedway in 2009, where he last won in 1990, to take part in a legends race, finishing third.
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "I always had a lot of success at Bristol. I won four Busch races and finished second in a Cup race there. Why I did it was just for fun and to see a lot of my old friends. A lot of the guys that worked for me in my last few years are still involved. Some of them are crew chiefs working with the Cup cars or the Nationwide Series today. I got to see all those guys. It was a big thrill."
Cup Driver Statistics
Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn 1966 27 1 of 49 0 0 0 0 32 0 0 128 21.0 28.0 1973 34 3 of 28 0 1 2 0 813 0 7,452 56 17.3 13.3 1974 35 4 of 30 0 0 0 0 290 0 4,985 62 24.0 29.0 1984 45 2 of 30 0 0 0 0 695 0 7,650 77 24.5 21.5 4 years 10 0 1 2 0 1830 0 20,087 21.8 22.7
(Xfinity) Busch (1982) Driver Statistics
Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn 1982 43 1 of 29 0 0 0 0 155 0 1,485 157 8.0 25.0 1983 44 3 of 35 0 1 1 0 312 0 4,370 60 18.3 18.3 1984 45 26 of 29 0 3 10 3 3661 4 43,265 7 11.0 15.6 1985 46 27 of 27 0 6 19 0 4722 54 77,292 6 11.0 9.5 1986 47 31 of 31 1 12 20 0 5065 208 96,477 6 10.5 11.9 1987 48 27 of 27 0 6 10 0 4044 77 102,702 9 12.3 15.1 1988 49 30 of 30 0 5 11 1 5419 335 66,640 9 13.6 14.3 1989 50 29 of 29 1 7 16 0 5470 188 109,821 4 15.3 10.5 1990 51 31 of 31 1 5 7 0 6110 119 156,674 8 17.9 15.3 1991 52 1 of 31 0 0 0 0 113 0 8,896 89 39.0 19.0 10 years 206 3 45 94 4 35071 985 667,622 13.4 13.3
Other Statistics: HERE
Copyright © 2003 LegendsofNascar.com by Roland Via. All rights reserved. Revised: 01/17/16 09:25:44 -0500. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works. FAIR USE NOTICE: This web page may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This page is operated under the assumption that this use on the Web constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 section 107 of the US Copyright Code Law. Such material remains the copyright of the original holder and is used here for the purposes of education and comparison only. No infringement of copyright is intended. Any text or images that you feel need to be removed please contact me. LegendsofNascar.com is not associated or affiliated with any racing club or organizations including that of NASCAR. It is constructed simply as an internet information source. Images and content made be used with email permission. Opinions and other content are not necessarily those of editors, sponsors.
Please visit official NASCAR information website at NASCAR.COM.