Sonny Leonard

July 19, 1943January 10, 2021
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Estol Fletcher “Sonny” Leonard, Jr., 77, of Forest passed away Sunday, January 10, 2021 at Lynchburg General Hospital. Born in Gladys, July 19, 1943, he was the son of the late Estol F. Leonard and Garnetta Keesee Leonard.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by three sisters, Ethel L. Williams, Audrey L. Abbott and Christine L. Lacks and a special nephew, Ricky Williams.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Frances N. Leonard; his son Larry Leonard and his wife Tina of Bedford and his daughter, Kelly Leonard Ward and her husband Junior of Goode; three grandchildren, Jessica Ward Robinson and her husband Austin, Brianna Leonard and Lexi Leonard; two sisters, Estelle Leonard Brock of Forest and Betty Jean Hudson and her husband Harold of Forest; brother-in-law, Bill Lacks and a number of special nieces and nephews. Sonny never met a stranger and he is also survived by very close and special friends, too many to name.

Sonny proudly served his country in the US Army. He was the owner and operator of Sonny’s Automotive Racing. He founded the company in January, 1969. Sonny was known for designing and building race engines. He had customers all over the world and his engines have over 70 national world records and numerous championships in drag racing and truck pull events.

Sonny loved people. He cared for everyone and always looked for ways to help others.

A service celebrating his life will be conducted at 1:00 p.m. Thursday, January 14, 2021 at Thomas Road Baptist Church with Pastor Jonathan Falwell and the Rev. Danny Smith officiating.

The service may be viewed live at

Interment will follow in Fort Hill Memorial Park.

Friends my pay their respects and sign the register from 9 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at Whitten Timberlake Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,, Thomas Road Baptist Church, 1 Mountain View Dr., Lynchburg, VA 24502 or to the Victory Junction, or to a charity of your choice.


  • Frances Leonard, Wife of 52 years
  • Larry Leonard (Tina), Son
  • Kelly Leonard Ward (Junior), Daughter
  • Jessica Ward Robinson (Austin), Granddaughter
  • Brianna Leonard, Granddaughter
  • Lexi Leonard, Granddaughter
  • Estelle Leonard Brock, Sister
  • Betty Jean Hudson (Harold), Sister
  • Ethel Leonard Williams, Sister (deceased)
  • Audrey Leonard Abbott, Sister (deceased)
  • Christine Leonard Lacks, Sister (deceased)

  • Larry Leonard
  • Junior Ward
  • Troy Adams
  • David Harper
  • Tom Kidd
  • Steve West
  • Randy Viar
  • Chuck Druen
  • Rusty Elliott
  • Sean Henry
  • Michael Tummonds
  • Jason Wade


  • Open Time to Pay Your Respects

    Wednesday, January 13, 2021

  • Celebration of Life

    Thursday, January 14, 2021


Sonny Leonard

have a memory or condolence to add?

Herbert Sherman II

January 15, 2021

A great memory is our 1969 Mustang GRANDE that has a 302 bored 20 over n balanced with 351 w/ heads motor built in early 90s by sonnys racing . With all our heart thank you Sonny Leonard.

Robin Richardson

January 13, 2021

Sonnys smile was infectious , it could light up a room!! He was absolutely one of the sweetest people I ever met! Prayers to Frances, Kelly and Larry ,and grandkids. RIP sweet Sonny ,you will be so missed! Sending many prayers 🙏

Chuck Cook

January 13, 2021

So sorry to hear of Sonny's passing. Truly was a pleasure to be around him. My prayers and condolences are with his Family.
We lost a legend here. Rest In Peace, Sir.

Susan Wheeler

January 13, 2021

Francis, Larry(Booboo), Kelly and family,
This is one family that will never be forgotten. To the family thinking of you all.
Heads up because that is what Sonny Would want you to do.
Love to all.

Susan Iseman Wheeler

Christi O’Daniel

January 13, 2021

Thoughts and prayers to family , Francis we are thinking about you , sonny sure will be missed at the lodge. I always enjoyed seeing you both always so sweet always smiling , love Christi O

Betty Miller

January 13, 2021

So sorry to hear Sonny's life was cut so short. Praying for Frances and family. We had so much fun playing cards and socializing with Sonny and Frances. Such a generous man. Will be missed by all.

Dennis Jackson

January 13, 2021

Our thoughts and prayers to all of Sonny's family.
We met Sonny many years ago when he raced with IHRA. We have always ran "Virginia Gentleman" on our cars. A few years ago we went to Bristol to watch a race and talked with Sonny in the pits. He remembered Dennis and I and we talked about racing together many years ago. He was a dear friend and will be missed by everyone who knew him. May the special memories give you comfort.
Jackson Racing
Dennis and Janet Janet
Pulaski, Virginia

Clint Sparks

January 13, 2021

Sonny's family and friends,

I am so very sorry for your loss. I have had the privilege of working with Sonny and the staff at Sonny's Racing Engines for many years.

Sonny was always so kind. He will be truly missed.

Wishing the entire Leonard family peace and comfort during this difficult time.

Thank you,
Clint Sparks

Robert Anderson

January 13, 2021

Will really miss him. Starting know him when his first shop was on Dixie Airport Rd. I was 13 years old. I’m honored to have known this legend.

Elaine Godey Freim

January 13, 2021

I am so sorry to hear of Sonny's passing. Sonny & Frances were my neighbors for several years and our children played together. He was always kind and funny. Of course when he started up his race car, it rattled my house, but it was a riot when we dressed up and went trick or treating in the neighborhood after the kids finished. I think we got more candy than the kids did!. My sincere condolences. Frances, I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. May many happy memories flood you with joy and peace.