It’s sad when a racing driver dies, but it hurts when it’s someone who’s from the local area. Not many drivers from SoCal make it on the national scene in NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1 or even GrandAm or ALMS. In this case, it really hurts because Jason Leffler and I share a birthday but six years apart.
In general, West Coast racers have a chip on their shoulder compared to their counterparts in other parts of the country. There’s a saying that here on the West Coast, “the racin’ ain’t over until the fightin’s over”. Drivers like Ernie Irvan weren’t afraid to mix it up with the best drivers in NASCAR, and some that followed like Kurt and Kyle Busch, Robby Gordon and Kevin Harvick can be real dickheads at times.
On the other hand, Jason Leffler was one of the nice guys. He was a single father who had a look alike five-year-old son he adored, and after a dozen years bouncing around all three major NASCAR series returned to sprint car racing only to have today’s horrific accident take him from us too soon. He raced in the Camping World Truck Series, the Nationwide Series and the Sprint Cup series, including a full season with Chip Ganassi’s team in 2001 as the driver of the #01 Cingular Wireless Dodge Intrepid.
The Hall of Fame sprint car driver and NASCAR driver was only 37 years old. His last NASCAR appearance was last Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway.