August 11, 1940
Died February 10, 2016
Home: Ettrick, VA
1973 Rookie of the Year
FORMER ROOKIE OF THE YEAR LENNIE POND DIES
report | NASCAR.com | February
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
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
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
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was among those with a NASCAR
connection who honored Pond via social media
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Six drivers -
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.
That's History! NASCAR's Checkered
(flag) Past, One Story at a Time ·
Amy Henderson · Tuesday
October 17, 2006
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
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
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
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
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
Copyright © 2003
by Roland Via. All rights reserved. Revised:
02/11/16 09:32:06 -0500.
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