Lennie Pond
Born: August 11, 1940  -   Died February 10, 2016 
Ettrick, VA
1973 Rookie of the Year

By Staff report | NASCAR.com |  

Lennie Pond, the 1973 Rookie of the Year in NASCAR's premier series, died on Wednesday at age 75 of complications of cancer, a family spokesperson said.

Pond, a native of Ettrick, Virginia, raced for 17 seasons in NASCAR's premier series with 234 career starts, one win, 39 top fives, 88 top 10s and five pole positions.


NASCAR released a statement that read: "NASCAR extends its condolences to the friends and family of Lennie Pond, a true racer and for decades a fixture at Virginia short tracks -- where he was a five-time Late Model champion. Throughout his career, Lennie boasted accolades including the 1973 premier series rookie of the year title and a Talladega win, but it was his passion for speed, competition and racing that made him a favorite among fans and fellow competitors alike."

Pond's only career win came in the 1978 Talladega 500 while driving for Harry Ranier at a speed of 174.7 mph, the fastest 500-mile win in motorsports at that time. 

He finished fifth in the final Cup standings in 1976 and seventh in 1978.

In 1973, Pond beat out Darrell Waltrip in a spirited race for the Rookie of the Year title. Pond finished 23rd in the final Cup standings that season; Waltrip was 28th.

In 1976, Pond was the winner of the ARCA 200 at Daytona. Pond was also the runner-up in the NASCAR National Sportsman Championship behind Rene Charland in 1965 and a five-time champion in Virginia Late Models.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was among those with a NASCAR connection who honored Pond via social media Wednesday:

Lennie Pond had a Winston Cup career that had more downs than ups and for that reason he never made the big time.  His biggest triumph was winning the 1978 Talladega 500 at a then world record speed of 174.700 mph.  He was also the series' top rookie in 1973 beating out a young driver named Darrell Waltrip. 

His career was filled with a lot of good, solid runs including seven runner-up finishes and 86 top-'5s.  During the two years he ran the full circuit he finished fifth (1976) and seventh (1978) in the race for NASCAR Winston Cup Championship.  Pond's best season (1978) was the last-and only-year he ran for a top dollar team.  As a result he never achieved the stardom that many thought would happen.

In only his third start in Winston Cup competition he finished seventh at Richmond and followed that with one top-5 finish and eight other top-10 finishes to win the 1973 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year honors in which NASCAR, at that time, called it the closest competition in history.  After winning the award as an underdog, Pond said," I knew if they (NASCAR) went on performance alone, I would win it.  Since they did, I'm very thankful." Among his rewards was an automobile.

In 1975 Pond finished second in both races at Richmond.  In the fall event, he led laps 195 thru 375 before a long pit stop ruined his chance of winning.  His makeshift crew had trouble changing his right rear tire, and then Pond was black-flagged for having a missing lug nut.

Pond said," There were three or four races that I really deserved to win (at Richmond), but we didn't.  Had a flat tire one time, another time I dominated the race and got put in the wall by Ed Negre.  He didn't see me, and I was lapping him and he didn't see me and bam- I'm in the wall.  Back then one win would have made a big difference."

In 1978 Harry Ranier hired Pond to drive his car and hired Waddell Wilson to act as head engine builder and crew chief.  Pond skipped the first race at Riverside, CA. then went to Daytona to finish 10th in the Daytona 500.  A week later at Richmond, Pond was looking like a sure winner as he led four times for 142 laps in the Richmond 400.  But with 77 laps to go, he suffered a flat tire while leading.  By the time he returned to the track, he trailed Benny Parsons by 24 seconds.  Pond had a faster car than Parsons and was cutting into his lead but ran out of laps and finished 2.6 seconds back.  Later that year he finished second at Nashville for the seventeenth runner-up finish of his career, but still no victory #1.

Winning car at Talladega 1978, Lennie Pond's only Cup WinPond heard rumors that Ranier was going to release him at the end of the season and hire Darrell Waltrip.  Pond went to Talladega with that in mind and finally visited victory lane with an impressive run on a day a record 67 lead changes took place.  He took the lead for the final time with five laps to go and held off Donnie Allison in a typical Talladega shootout.  During a victory lane celebration speech Pond said, "when this race started, I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, I've gone through a lot of miserable days lately.  I've heard the talk that I can't drive the superspeedways.  I hope all that ends now."  Despite a year in which he won five poles-the only ones of his career-finished seventh in points despite missing two races.  He had eleven top-5 finishes and nineteen top-'10s in twenty-eight starts.  Pond was released at the end of the season, however Darrell Waltrip was still under contract with Di-Gard and did not join Ranier.

Pond never did recover from his departure from Ranier and during the next seven years he drove for numerous car owners, running a very limited schedule.  In 1980 he had seven top-'10s including a third place finish in only seventeen starts.

Pond's career ended September 10, 1999 in a 11th place finish at Richmond, driving a Ford for Junie Donlavey.




Another Short Story . . . . 1973 Rookie of the Year

Lenny Pond began his Winston Cup career in 1973. A seventh place finish in his third start, one top-5 finish, and finishing in the top-ten eight times gave Lenny Pond the Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Award in 1973 edging out a young Darrell Waltrip in what NASCAR called the closest competition ever. As the underdog winner Pond said, “I knew if they (NASCAR) went on performance alone, I would win it. Since they did, I’m very thankful.”

Also . . . .

In the 1975 season Pond took home second place at both Richmond races. After leading laps 195 through 375, during the fall race, a win seemed like a sure thing. 7 A long pit stop and then a black flag for a missing lug nut ended any hopes of a win. He ran the full Winston Cup season in 1976 and again in 1978 placing fifth and seventh in the points race.

Did Ya Know?

Six drivers - Lennie Pond, Richard Brickhouse, Dick Brooks, Bobby Hillin, Phil Parsons and Ron Bouchard - won their first and only Winston Cup Series race at Talladega!

Can You Name This Men? Email Here

12/2/09 Eamil: The Man in the back row, 1st one on the left is MY DADDY!!! Al Moseley, Jr., which passed away on January 31, 2003. Then there is James Allred, Ray & Charles Logwood, Kenny Jolley, I believe Ray Hendricks, Lennie Pond of course in the middle. My father was the main sponser (Shirley Construction) for the #1VA, Late Model Modified that Lennie drove. I'm sending this pic to my Mom, she can name the rest. This pic was back in the day that Pete Babb (went on to be, I believe Chief Pit Steward for Nascar, and my Dad's best friend, but also passed away a few years ago) was the official pace car driver and flagger @ Langley Race-Track in Hampton, Va. I was just googling Lennie when I found this pic. I was just sitting here reading and all of a sudden there is a pic of my Daddy!! How Awesome! What memories! I was just a little girl, but I remember so well those old dirt and red clay tracks. And my little mini bike I used to run around the pits on. They sure were the good old days. That was racing! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I hope to hear back from you.
Marie Moseley
Wasilla, Alaska 

Biggest Fish in the Pond

That's History! NASCAR's Checkered (flag) Past, One Story at a Time ·
Amy Henderson · Tuesday October 17, 2006

In 1973, a brash, outspoken rookie named Darrell Waltrip burst onto the NASCAR scene, making an impact with both his brash words (which earned Waltrip the nickname “Jaws”) and his daring on the racetrack. Even as a rookie, Waltrip was vocally confident that he would someday be a NASCAR champion. He was right – he went on to win three titles in his brilliant career. But Waltrip’s career didn’t take off overnight; in fact, he wasn’t the 1973 Rookie of the Year. That honor went to Lennie Pond.

Lennie Pond did not go on to win three titles, although he has a win and fifth-place points finish to his name. Pond’s rookie campaign was nothing to sneeze at, either. He took home a Top 5 and nine Top 10 finishes throughout the course of the season – respectable numbers in the days when rookie drivers had to prove themselves in inferior equipment, often for years before being handed the wheel of a top ride. That consistency got him the rookie title over Waltrip, who took over the Bud Moore ride in the middle of the season but was never able to truly capitalize on the opportunity.

Lennie Pond only raced a few full-time seasons at the Cup level, although he ran a handful of races before his rookie campaign and raced at least a race a year until he retired in 1989. His last race was at Richmond for legendary car owner Junie Donlavey.

Pond’s best points season was in 1976, when he raced in all 30 races for car owner Ronnie Elder in a Chevrolet Malibu sponsored by Pepsi. In that year, Pond scored ten top fives and nineteen Top 10 finishes. The thirty-five-year-old driver also had an average finish of just below twelfth, all good enough for fifth in the final standings.

Pond ran a partial schedule for Elder the following year in an often-unsponsored car before joining car owner Harry Ranier in 1978. Pond garnered almost instant success with Ranier, scoring a top ten finish in the Daytona 500 and going on to win five poles in the No. 54 W.I.N car. Pond’s best race of the year was at Talladega in midsummer. Pond started fifth and led 22 laps that day, including the most important one, taking the checkers for the only win of his career.

Born in 1940 in Ettrick, Virginia, Pond was not a big man, standing just 5’7”. Waltrip, who was both tall and brash, was certainly the better known of the two top rookies of 1973. Despite his successes, Lennie Pond ran mostly partial schedules in NASCAR’s top series. But no matter what, Pond can always look back on his rookie year in NASCAR’s Winston Cup Series knowing that he was the best in class. You can hear it now: “And there was the time I won rookie of the year. Beat that Waltrip kid. Yeah. That was a great year…”

The moral of the story is simple. Without the Lennie Ponds, the Darrell Waltrips wouldn’t have anyone to challenge them and, ultimately, make them better. That’s History.

Thanks to The Frontstretch

Bobby Allison and Lennie Pod at Heritage Chevrolet where Lennie was a heck of a saleman.
Can you image what the test rides were like??

AFX Chevelle Slot Car

Lennie Pond DRIVER - Grand National  / Winston Cup Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn Miles
1969 28 1 of 54 0 0 0 0 73 0 650 83 38.0 34.0 74.2
1970 29 1 of 48 0 0 0 0 88 0 1,020   37.0 34.0 133.9
1973 32 23 of 28 0 1 9 0 5850 4 25,255 23 13.2 21.1 5478.8
1974 33 22 of 30 0 5 11 0 6684 17 55,989 18 13.3 13.5 7190.5
1975 34 22 of 30 0 6 9 0 5859 275 59,265 21 7.1 17.6 6360.5
1976 35 30 of 30 0 10 19 0 8182 217 159,701 5 11.5 12.6 10055.1
1977 36 14 of 30 0 4 6 0 3154 5 49,440 30 13.7 20.1 3713.0
1978 37 28 of 30 1 11 19 5 8443 319 181,096 7 7.7 11.6 9412.2
1979 38 15 of 31 0 0 2 0 3043 14 42,970 29 17.3 23.2 3863.7
1980 39 17 of 31 0 2 7 0 3396 68 62,265 30 12.7 19.8 4512.4
1981 40 12 of 31 0 0 0 0 3083 0 29,045 34 20.2 20.2 3445.9
1982 41 13 of 30 0 0 2 0 2490 1 45,715 33 29.5 23.4 3192.9
1983 42 10 of 30 0 0 2 0 2288 3 41,530 34 27.9 19.5 2910.7
1984 43 12 of 30 0 0 2 0 3590 0 54,200 38 24.6 21.4 3349.6
1985 44 12 of 28 0 0 0 0 2831 3 70,640 33 28.5 21.4 4320.2
1988 47 1 of 29 0 0 0 0 383 0 2,375   31.0 22.0 207.6
1989 48 1 of 29 0 0 0 0 394 0 3,475 64 25.0 11.0 295.5
17 years 234 1 39 88 5 59831 926 884,631   15.6 17.9 68516.9


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