Born to Race: Pollard continues family tradition in Late Model series
By DOUG GORMAN
Senoia’s Bubba Pollard didn’t really have a tough decision to make when it came time to decide what to do with his life.
Driving a race car was the logical choice. Maybe the only choice for the 25-year-old driver who literally grew up in a tight-knit family of racer car drivers.
With such strong racing bloodlines, the track became Pollard’s home away from home and as a young child, he became as comfortable in a race car as some are on their bicycle.
“I always knew I wanted to race too,” Pollard said. “I was really lucky that my Dad stopped racing to help me focus on my career. He could still be out there winning races too, but racing is always what I wanted to do and my family has helped me focus on that.”
Like so many young drivers, Pollard became a racing prodigy on the Legends circuit taking more than 50 checkered flags at Atlanta, Charlotte, Cordelle and Senoia from 1999-2001.
“It’s a great way to learn and get experience,” Pollard said. “Those cars can be hard to drive, but you can learn a lot.”
Nearly a decade ago, Pollard graduated to something with a little more horsepower, competing in Late Model stock cars around short tracks as part of the Southern All-Stars, winning checkers flags and points titles each year.
These days, Pollard is one of the top short track drivers around having won more than 50 races.
He is also trying to expand his racing resume.
Wednesday afternoon Pollard was heading home after competing in and finishing 16th in the ASA Howie Lettow Memorial 150 at the Milwaukee Mile.
For the local short track champion, it was a chance to test his skills on a bigger track and against some well-known competition.
The event often attracts current NASCAR drivers, and Tuesday night was no exception as Johnny Sauter finished fourth, Matt Kenseth sixth, David Ragan 18th and retired NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace 31st.
“This was a lot of fun,” he said. “This was new for us and a little longer track than we are use too. Hopefully, we can take something from what we learned and go from there. We would love to go back there too.”
It was also one of Pollard’s first trips outside the South to fuel his passion for his favorite sport.
The 16th-place finish was more than respectable for Pollard.
“It was a longer race and with some different rules,” he said. “Racing on a mile track is a lot different than racing on a short-track, but we had a lot of fun and hopefully we learned a little bit.”
Pollard has excelled each and every year he’s been in the Late Model Series, but the 19 checkered flags last year will be hard to top. So will the CRA Championship, the Gulf South Championship, the Miller Lite Championship, and the Viper Series Championship that came his way too.
Pollard enjoyed two of his brightest moments in racing last year, winning the Beau Slocum Memorial at Gresham Speedway and also being named Georgia Driver of the Year.
Slocum was a good friend of Pollard’s who was also into racing, so winning the event in memory of his friend was special.
Pollard has carried over last year’s blueprint for success into the 2012 season, winning twice, and finishing among the top-10 eight times.
“We just knew it was going to be hard to top what we did last year, but we have refocused,” he said. “We are still working hard.”
One of this year’s wins came last month when he qualified fifth before racing to the checkered flag in the Miller Lite 3 at the Mobile International Speedway. He also won a race back in March, claiming the checkered flag at the South Alabama Speedway.
Pollard plans on racing in at least 10 more events this year.
“We just want to keep winning races and see what happens,” he said.
Pollard has the same goal as every driver who spends time at different short tracks around the region. He still has big dreams of NASCAR.
“That’s the top circuit, so sure we would love to race out there,” he said. “I also know it takes a good sponsor with a lot of money, and some luck. If it doesn’t happen, that is fine too. We are having a lot of fun right now, and I am getting a lot of support from my family, so if we have to stay in Late Models that’s fine.”