The NASCAR community is mourning the death of former driver Lennie Pond, who passed away from complications of cancer, his family announced Wednesday morning.
Pond was 75.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Pond’s passing and spoke to several individuals who were prominent in Pond’s life, including retired judge John Dodson, who owned a Late Model car that Pond raced in 1969 and 1970.
“We won races together at lots of places,” Dodson said of Pond. “Lennie was fast and reliable. He brought the car back in one piece. He never wrecked once the whole time we raced together.
“(Pond was) a good man and a talented racer who had a great, great career.”
NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison attended a tribute to Pond held last week in Richmond.
“Lennie was a tough competitor,” Allison told the Times-Dispatch. “I raced against him lots of times over the years. He was fun and fair to race against. And when the race was over, if you needed help, Lennie would help you out.
“You knew he was going to be competitive. He worked hard with his part of the deal and came to the track ready to race.”
Pond began racing in the 1950s, becoming a dual threat on both dirt and asphalt tracks, particularly in NASCAR’s Modified and Late Model Sportsman classes, including being a five-time Virginia champion, according to the Times-Dispatch.
Pond also shined on the Winston Cup level, earning Rookie of the Year honors in 1973. He competed in 234 Cup races between 1973 and 1989, with 88 top-10 finishes. He won one race on the circuit: in 1978 at Talladega Superspeedway in the August Talladega 500.
His average speed (174.70 mph) in that race set a record at the time for a 500-mile race in any major racing series.
NASCAR issued a statement about Pond’s passing:
“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. ”
Several members of the NASCAR community took to Twitter to mourn Pond’s passing: