He stood only 5-foot-3. His spiked hair cut made him look every bit the part of a scrappy little bantam rooster of a racer. You knew when Jason Leffler was racing, he was racing to win. The winner of two Nationwide Series races and one in the Truck Series, the NASCAR record books will hardly do his time justice.
For better or for worse, Jason Leffler made things happen. This season, until his death Wednesday night, he had devoted his racing on dirt to Sprint Cars, back to his roots. He was running second in a “Night of Wings” event at Bridgeport Speedway in Swedesboro, New Jersey, when a lost control after hitting a wall, flipping several times before his car came to rest.
A racer’s racer, the Long Beach, California native won three national midget car championship from 1997 to 1999, and he finished 17th in the Indianapolis 500 in 2000, three laps behind race winner Juan Pablo Montoya. He won a Truck Series race in 2003 at Dover, and picked up his Nationwide wins at Nashville in 2004 and at O’Reilly Raceway Park in 2007. That win was a first for Toyota in the Nationwide Series at a time when the manufacturer was considered a bit of a joke.
He didn’t mess around. Leffler got into his fair share of scrapes with other drivers and served a five lap penalty for “over aggressive driving” in one race.
Most of all, Leffler loved his son, Charlie Dean. His Instagram was littered with photos of young Charlie, and a popular one on the Internet right now shows the young boy looking into his father’s eyes.
Unfortunately, auto racing is one of those sports where death sometimes comes with the territory. Leffler knew it, but it never dampened his spirit. The world of racing will be poorer without Jason Leffler. Our prayer go out to his family.