By admin | March 23, 2009
By Richard Allen
Thirty years ago L.D. Ottinger’s name was known by many racing fans across the country. This past Saturday night the Newport, Tennessee native’s name once again rang out in the racing world.
The 70 year old Ottinger drove his way up to a 3rd place finish after starting 10th in the Scotts Saturday Night Special race for legends at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Ottinger, whose hometown is only about an hour’s drive from BMS, won his last Busch Series race on this track in 1990. He fought off the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and Dale Jarrett for the win that day. That race is perhaps best known for the horrific crash of driver Michael Waltrip.
Ottinger’s credentials as a legend go far deeper than his last win, however. He was the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman division champion in 1975 and 1976. During the 1970s he won countless races on every type of track imaginable.
Aside from his Busch Series triumph of 1990 on the high banked track, Ottinger very nearly added a trophy from NASCAR’s top division to his collection in the 1973 Volunteer 500. In that race, local driver John A. Utsman relieved Benny Parsons and the two combined for the win.
Ottinger, and his relief driver Gene Glover, had the fastest car in the race but extra pit stops relegated the pair to a 2nd place finish.
Speaking of his finish in the legends event Ottinger showed he still has that competitive drive. “This is the second time I’ve been in a car in 15 years,” he declared. “I’d like to see this again. This was great.”
And what did Ottinger think of his much younger competition? “I am old enough to be his father,” Ottinger said of Rusty Wallace, who’s 52. “I am just honored to be asked to be in this.”
L.D. Ottinger has always been thought of as a racing legend by long time race fans in east Tennessee. Maybe after Saturday night a new generation of fans in the racing world may also consider him as such.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
Topics: ET Racing |
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