Lee "Leebo" Kindred
Lee and Bea Kindred
Lee Kindred (2nd from right) with friends at the 2003 Dirt Track World
Championships at Bluegrass Speedway Bardstown, KY
Lee "Leebo" Kindred
Nominated By Jody Shannon
Interview By JTodd LeFevers
The following is a Hall of Fame interview with Lee Kindred of Hanahan, South Carolina.
Those of you that know him understand what a pleasure that can be. This is the first time I
ever talked to Lee. I can tell you that the nearly three hour talk was not enough, Lee is full
of great stories. It was truly my pleasure, and I can't wait until the next time we talk.
Congratulations and welcome to the Fans Hall of Fame Lee, you as well as many others have
(JTodd) Lee can you tell me how you got involved with Dirt Racing, and what are some of
you first memories of a track?
(Lee) 1951 in a little town I lived in Rockwell City, Iowa. We had a 1/2
dirt track. I never knew it was used for anything other than track
events at school. All of a sudden guys started putting together cars,
jalopies is what they were back then. They started running on Sunday
afternoon. My Dad grab me and my younger brother up and away we
went. I saw the first one and I couldn't wait for the next Sunday,
couldn't wait for the next Sunday after that. They didn't run very
long. A guy got killed by accident, it was a weird thing. They closed
the track up. That was the first, I was eleven years old. Been that way
(JTodd) Who are some of your favorite drivers, and why do you support and follow them?
(Lee) Well, I guess really my first favorite driver. I like them all, but
my first favorite driver was guy that drove at El Cajon Speedway in
San Diego, California. His name, I don't know his real name. He went
by Tex Kimbrel and drove an orange #2. He was good, and of course
everything I had was orange and had a #2 on it. See I was in the Navy
back then, this was in the early 60's. I went to races all over
California. Then I went to Hawaii, and I got to go to 3 different race
tracks in Hawaii. Then we went to Jacksonville, Florida in the early
70's and racing was real good there. There we met a guy named Rantz
Phillips. I don't know if you have ever heard of him, he needs to be in
the Late Model Hall of Fame. He was good, and of course everything I
had went to black and gold with a #27 on it. People use to ask me if I
was his Dad. We had two tracks in Lake City, Florida. He raced at one
or the other. People said they would drive by and see if my pickup was
in the parking lot. They knew Rantz Phillips was there. If it was in the
other lot they knew Rantz was there. But people used to actually ask
me if I was his Dad. Ain't going to take credit for that. He was down it
that area, one of the best there ever was or ever will be.
(JTodd) How long were you in Jacksonville, Florida?
(Lee) Three Years, yeah as a matter of fact Tuesday I'll be in the
Charleston area, we came up here November two days before
Thanksgiving 1974. We got up here and just went from track to track
to track to track. We got involved with this guy driving the #00 out of
North Carolina. Really didn't know who he was. We went to a race at
Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Georgia. He came down there,
course Freddy always keeps his car in A1 shape. After about 15 laps of
the feature, looked like he went thru World War II with it. He would
go in the pits and come back out and go back in and come back out. I
told my wife we have to go down and meet that guy. We met his Dad,
Mom, and his wife. Soon here he come, and his car looked terrible.
Freddy will tell you to this day that it looked so bad that he was
ashamed of it. When he took it back to King's Mountain, North
Carolina he unloaded it behind his shop. He didn't want anyone to see
(JTodd) What year was that?
(Lee) That would have been December, 1978 and I've been following
him every since. Matter of fact of got a room, one of our bedrooms. We
don't use it as a bedroom. It's my Freddy Smith Museum. I've got a lot
of Dale Earnhardt stuff in there too. About 80% of it is Freddy. I got
T-shirts that I've framed. I don't know I've got tons of stuff in there.
You can't even walk in there. We call it my Freddy Smith Museum.
(JTodd) What are some of your favorite tracks and some of your fondess memories of them?
(Lee) I've got to go with Eldora. We went to Eldora from 1975-1998 to
the World 100. We went to the first Dream and I got to see what I
wanted to see. We never went back to the Dream. Then in 1998 when
we came home I said well thats going to be the last trip. The 12 hour
drive is just to much. I've watched that place go from, all they had was
the bleachers under the canopy. I just can't understand how people
can get on there after he's had one of his big races and say that he
needs to update the place. If they were to see how that place looked
years ago. They would appreciate
what he has done.
(JTodd) I agree.
(Lee)Another one of my Favorite race tracks which they don't race
dirt late models anymore. They did a little bit this past year is Wythe
Raceway in Wytheville, Virgina. That track is amazing.
Volunteer in Bulls Gap, Tennessee. I retired from the Navy in August,
1980. As soon as I retired we went jump in a little old Toyota pickup
and went to Bulls Gap for the first time. I'm sure that it was a NDRA
race. I could not believe it. I'm talking 23 years ago. They had one row
of parking back there in the back, and we went back there and
parked. Believe it or not there was a tree stump there. I sat on this
tree stump with my legs hanging over the race track. I could not
believe what I was seeing. Those cars would go down that front
straightaway, and I thought my God those guys ain't turning. They
would go to the very top of that bank before they would even think of
turning. Thats a highly banked track. I fell in love with it. It's a little
over five hour drive, and I couldn't tell you how many trips we have
made there. I mean that track was totally awesome.
Rome Speedway in Rome, Georgia. I don't know about lately. I
haven't been in several years, but it use to be one of the best dirt
tracks in the country. Loved to go there.
I went to the first ever Dirt Race at Bristol. That was something. I
mean just to see that place. To see how many race cars and fans
poured out. To be there at that race was great. I thought maybe like
10,000 people would show, but it was amazing how many showed. I saw
so many people that I know. Of course I can't hardly go to a race
track where I don't know somebody. Then I thought they messed it up
the second time they had it. I told them, I sent them an email and said
it went from two nights the first time to four night the second. People
can't afford to go four nights in a row to that. They can't afford to take
off work. The drivers are not going to be able to run four nights
consecutive on that race track. I was right. They emailed me back and
told me if we have it again we will go back to the two nights. As soon as
I saw that "if" I knew what was next.
(JTodd) Since you've been involved with racing what are some of changes that you have
(Lee) Well, to me dirt late model racing is not any better. Everything
is so even keel to me. I mean everybody has to run a certain motor,
certain tires, and this and that. All the cars have to meet specs. Then
they put the fast car in front to start the feature. How do you expect a
slow car to catch a fast car? That makes no sense to me at all. Out on
the West coast everybody had to qualify, and everybody ran heat
races. Then they inverted for the feature and you got passing points
that went towards the Championship. For every postition that you
bettered yourself you got 5 points. I have seen many time that the
18-24 place car would win a 35-40 lap feature race. But to put the fast
ones out front then let the slow ones chase them, I don't know.
I said in an interview with Doc Lehman about a year or so ago that I
just wish the young people today got to see the racing that went on
15-20 years ago. They missed out. It was racing back then. I say Rantz
Phillips was one of the best out there, but he had to race for it. Like
last night at Kentucky Lake. Bloomquist was on the pole and he won
the race, why shouldn't he unless something happens to the car.
(JTodd) Speaking of a few years ago, were you fond of the Wedge Cars?
(Lee) I was very fond of them.
(JTodd) What drew you to them?
(Lee) The looks, the way they handled, and the speeds. It was
something that I would love to see again. Back when Freddy was
driving for Barry Wright. I would go up to Barry's shop. Back in the
corner Barry had a wedge car of Buck Simmons. I often wonder if he
still has that sitting there. I would walk in there and it would give me
goosebumps. I have a couple of wedge races on tape. Every once in a
while I'll get them out and look at them. I would love to see them again.
(JTodd)Anymore changes you want to talk about?
(Lee) I think the promotors are charging the fans to much to get in.
But as long as they keep playing to record crowds and full houses, why
shouldn't they. Though I think the fans are getting ripped off a lot. I
can see $25 dollars, but to go to a two day show and pay $20 dollars
the first night and $30 or $35 the next. Thats a rip off.
(JTodd) If you could have inducted the first class of Dirt Late Model Hall Of Famers, and
picked them yourself.. who would have first five members been?
I like them all, but I think the Hall of Fame is run in the wrong
manner. Every sport you don't get in the Hall of Fame until you retire.
I have nothing against say a Donnie Moran, but he should not be Hall
of Fame eligible. Really and truthfully all the top name drivers are
going to get in the Hall of Fame, but why put them in today when they
have years and years of driving left. We have pioneers that need to be
in the Hall of Fame.
(JTodd) I talked to Floyd Gilbert for a couple of hours just a few days ago. He expressed the
(JTodd) Floyd Gilbert.
(Lee) Where in the World did you run into him?
(JTodd) On the phone. Floyd and my Dad raced together a lot. We used to go stay in
Jacksonville with him after he moved down there. I call every now and again to keep in
(Lee) Floyd and Gene Petro use to come to Jacksonville in the winter
and race down there. Floyd ended up moving to Jacksonville, Fla. and
Gene moved to Deland, Fla. How is Floyd doing?
(JTodd) He's doing good. He will be 74 years young soon here, and everything is good.
(Lee) I would love to be up there for his induction. That brings back
memories talking about Floyd Gilbert. He use to come down to
Oglethorpe Speedway in Georgia.
(JTodd) Thats funny you mention that. Floyd and his wife Dee Gilbert are members of The
Dirt Fans Team. He wanted to make sure I put him in the Oglethorpe free ticket drawing. He
said he would love to go there again.
(Lee) He would come down there. We would always get there early
and he would always be there. As you go into Oglethorpe Speedway
theres a back road back there and he would always pull in down there
under a shade tree. We would pull over there and sit and talk for
about an hour with Floyd.
The first time we ever went to Eldora, he was the one that said you got
to go. We did in 1975. That was back when they ran it on Saturday
afternoon, and Sunday afternoon. We got up there and Floyd was out
in the lot working on his car. He ask do you guys have tickets and I
said no. He said go over there to the house and knock on the door and
tell Earl you need tickets for the race. I said won't they be selling
them. He said yes, but there will be such a line, this way you'll already
have yours. So I knocked on the door. That was the first time I ever
met Earl Baltes. I told Earl, Floyd said we can get advanced tickets to
the race. Earl said yes, how many you need? I told him 2. He said just
wait right here. My daughter is not here right now, but she will be
soon. About 30 or 40 minutes later she came driving up and said are
you the ones that were needing tickets. I said yes maam. She said how
many did you want? I said 2. She said you mean Dad made me come
all the way here for 2 tickets? I'll never forget that. That stuck in my
mind that Earl really appreciated me being there.
You know something else I remember about Floyd Gilbert he had a
name for his car. He had TTT painted on the car. I asked him what
that was. Floyd said "Thats my Two Ton Turd".
(JTodd) I sure do remember it.
(Lee) He use to bring that car to Oglethorpe Speedway. He would take
it to Jacksonville, Lake City. Matter of fact the year he won the World
100 he came to Lake City, Florida. Back then it was a little hard to get
racing news and I didn't even know he had won it. I saw him coming,
and I said Floyd I need to know Who won the World 100 this year. A
big smile came across his face and he said...Me! I hated to hear when
Floyd and Gene retired. Another guy that use to come to Jacksonville
in the winter was Jerry Inmon out of Mississippi.
(JTodd) What are some of your Favorite racing memories?
(Lee) 1994 Freddy Smith winning the first Dream 100. I Remember
Before they had Stands in turns 1 and 2. A couple friends of ours
Dorrell Martin and Isiah Crosby always parked their campers there.
We all got our lawn chairs out and just had the best time. When
Freddy got the checker at the Dream, it took us about two and a half
minutes to get to his trailer. It was so amazing. What was so great
about it was that Freddy just got a new sponsor. Bazooka Bass Tubes.
Those guys flew in from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was their first time
at a Dirt Track. Most people don't know that Freddy won thats race
with a cast on his hand. He wouldn't let anyone sign the cast either. He
said after he wins the Dream, Earl will be the first to sign it. Earl was
the first to sign it, and Freddy still has that cast to this day.
(JTodd) Can you tell me a little bit about yourself outside of racing?
(Lee) There's not much to tell. My life is a lot about racing, going
racing, and watching racing.
(JTodd) Tell me a little about your wife.
(Lee) Elva is her real name, but she goes by "Bea". We have been
married since December 24th, 1970. She has always supported me. She
goes sometimes . She never said I can't go, and a lot of times she
always ask the next morning who won and who did what.
(JTodd) Do you have any children?
(Lee) No children, we did have a couple poodles. Barry, and Cher.
They both passed on. We never replaced them cause they can't be
(JTodd) Do you have any Brothers and Sisters?
(Lee) I have a Brother Terry Kindred and a Sister Sara Thurston.
They both live in Iowa. In fact when I was a kid, my sister had a
boyfriend and he raced. I can't remember his name. He would come
from Lake City, Iowa and come to Rockwell City, Iowa to pick her up.
Me a a few of my friends would jump in the race car and ride about 25
miles to the track. I don't know what ever happened between the two,
but I was very disturbed. She cost me my free ride to the track. I was
mad for a long time after they broke up.
(JTodd) Are there any other interest you have outside of racing?
(Lee) I use to bowl a lot. Oh there is one thing I really enjoy doing.
For the past 12 years I have been playing Santa, for kids as well as
adults. The past 6 years I have played Santa in downtown Charleston,
South Carolina. I also play it at Sumter Speedway here in South
Carolina on November 29th. I love doing it. You can't imagine what
kids will say.
(JTodd) How did you come up with your name " Leebo"?
(Lee) When I first got on 4m seven years ago, every name that had to
do with Freddy was taken. After trying about 15 names I said to heck
with it and typed in "Leebo" and it just stuck. That reminds me of a
story. I use to always tell Freddy I'm your #2 fan. He said why do you
always say that. I told him everybody else says they are your #1 fan.
Somebody has to be #2. When Freddy started driving for
Christianberry Trucking someone came up with a Freddy Smith fan
club. The first race that year was Volunteer Speedway. They
approached me about joining his fan club. So I filled out the papers
and paid them. I asked them how many they had and they said you are
the first. So I said great. When the papers came I was #002, they all
start with #00 no matter how high it gets. So the next time I saw them I
told them I like the fact I got #2, but who got #1. They said Naomi,
Freddy's wife. She's earned it. It worked out great, because I'm really
his #002 fan. We met the Smith's out of the blue and they have been
just like family.
(JTodd) I want to thank you for your time Lee, Is there anything else you would like to add
or anything you would like to say to all those reading this?
(Lee) I just want to reiterate that I'm sorry the younger generation
didn't get to see what I call
True Dirt Track Racing.
Golden Isle Speedway Brunswick, GA
Oglethorpe Speedway Savannah, GA
Savannah Speedway Savannah, GA
Waycross Motor Speedway Waycross, GA
I75 Speedway Valdosta, GA
Senoia Speedway Senoia, GA
Dixie Speedway Woodstock, GA
Lavonia National Speedway Lavonia, GA
Rome Speedway Rome, GA
Peach State Speedway Jeffersonville, GA
Lanier Speedway Gainesville(Braselton), GA
Atlanta Motor Speedway Hampton, GA
Nashville Motor Speedway Memphis, TN
Volunteer Bulls Gap, TN
Newport Speedway Newport, TN
Kingsport Speedway Kingsport, TN
Smoky Mountain Speedway Maryville, TN
Tazwell Speedway Tazwell, TN
Atomic Speedway Knoxville, TN
Cleveland Speedway Cleveland, TN
Bristol Motor Speedway Bristol, TN
Wythe Speedway Wytheville, VA
Log Cabin Speedway Basset, VA
Pennsboro Speedway Pennsboro, WVA
West Virgina Motor Speedway Mineral Wells, WVA
Eldora Speedway Rossburg, OH
East Alabama Motor Speedway Phoenix City, AL
North Alabama Speedway Tuscumbia, AL
Thunder Ridge Prestonsburg, KY
Bluegrass Speedway Bardstown, KY
Old Jax Jacksonville, FLA
New Jax Jacksonville, FLA
Volusia Speedway Barberville, FLA
East Bay Raceway Park Tampa, FLA
Putnum County Speedway Palatka, FLA
2 Dirt Tracks in Concord, NC
Hickory Motor Speedway
Carolina Speedway Gastonia, NC
Antioch Speedway Morgantown, NC
Friendship Speedway Elkin, NC
Lowes Dirt Track Concord, NC
Cherokee Gaffney, SC