When you start to think about what 100 wins means to a driver everything begins really adds up. Years of racing, nights of coming up short, close calls, wrecks, fast cars, not-so-fast cars, good luck and bad luck. It takes a lot to make it to the century mark.
Bubba Pollard, a modern day short track racing hero, reached the century mark this past weekend in Late Model action, but as someone who documented his wins along the way, there are some things that make his feat a truly amazing accomplishment.
It took Bubba Pollard 14 seasons to win 100 Late Model races between Pro and Super Late Model starts. Those wins came in independent shows, CRA, Southern Super Series, PASS, the retired GAS Series, Southern All Stars, CARS Tour, JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour, and the Blizzard Series.
In all, it took almost 400 starts to get his 100th victory. Do the math and you will figure out that Pollard has won approximately 25% of his Late Model starts. That’s one out of every four races that he has entered.
“If people only knew the blood, sweat and tears that go into our racing then they would understand,” Pollard said. “We are a family team. We have had lots of friends and people have come and gone over the years, but when you work on the 26 you are considered family.”
The team is run by Pollard and his dad Sonny. His sister Andrea is the spotter and momma Vicki is the team cheerleader from the stands.
“We just like to race,” Pollard added. “I have a great family that allows me to do this. My wife Erin, mom, dad, and Andrea have all been here from the get go. So many people that don’t get credit are guys like Richard Roberts, Mark Buckner, Josh McCoy, Wayne Quattlebaum, Lance Matthews, Bronson Dulabhan, Aaron Yetter, Edward Kittrell, Roger Delp, Greg Nester, Dan Solomon. There have been others along the way that got me here today.”
Not only has he won 100 races, but he’s done it in events that have been 100 laps in distance or more. Looking back into history, we know that several drivers have won this many races, but your Dick Trickle, Richie Evans, Steve Carlson, Jody Ridley types won a lot of races that were 25 laps or 50 laps and they also ran close to 100 shows a year.
Nowadays it’s hard to run 20 or so times a year and difficult to race for distances of 100 laps or more.
The fact is that every one of Pollard wins was an extra-distance race compared to weekly events. Nearly a dozen of these wins have come in races over 200 laps. Wins at the Winter Showdown, Slinger Nationals, Rattler 250 and All American 400 have put his name out there in every corner of the country.
Along the way, Pollard had his ups and downs. In 2007 he won only twice and only three times in 2013. His best seasons came in 2011 where he took 19 wins in 47 starts. He nearly matched it with 14 victories in 2014 in half as many starts.
In addition to his triumphs, Pollard has finished second some 46 times which can sometimes be hard for the Georgia driver to swallow.
Statistically, it’s hard to imagine anyone getting close to this anytime soon. In the Carolinas and Virginia, there are several short track standouts, but they run a bunch of weekly distances like 50 and 75 laps. The win totals are there, but not the distance.
“Anytime someone wins ten, twenty or thirty races it’s an accomplishment,” Pollard stated. “To have one-hundred wins in a sport you love is really cool. I didn’t start out saying I want to win 100 races or anything like that, but as we got closer to the number it was like that would be cool.”
A quick check of the history books finds that Bob Senneker won 85 ASA races, not all of which were over 100 laps. Dick Trickle is said to have won 1000 races, yet no list exists. Record keeping back then prevents us from knowing the actual number he had, but they could also run four to five nights a week.
“Trickle was the man,” Pollard said. “To have that many wins is unthinkable. In our area, it was Jody Ridley growing up who was winning a lot. I actually kind of wish I could go back in time and race in their time frame. Not so much to try to beat them, but just to have the chance to race as much as they did. He ran one-hundred times a year for ten or fifteen years; that’s fun.”
Drivers have won 1000 races, 700 races, 400 races and when you add up all of Pollard’s wins you have to include a dozen truck wins, 25 or so Modified wins, 10 other Late Model wins, five or so more on dirt and over 40 in the Legends world. With all of that added up, Pollard is inching closer to 200, give or take a few.
No matter what the number is, the goal for Pollard will continue to be the same: win the race.