by Ryan Isley
For the past couple of months, the “My Two Cents” column on Fridays has been a forum for me to look at three different stories in the world of sports and give my opinions on them. Today was going to be no different. And ironically, it was going to be an all-NASCAR edition. There were several things going on in the world of NASCAR that I wanted to touch on, from Brad Keselowski to TNT’s coverage to this week’s Father’s Day race at Michigan International Speedway.
After the events of Wednesday night, those things all became trivial.
So this week’s “My Two Cents” will be an abbreviated version and will deal with just one topic.
On the Passing of Jason Leffler:
I was feeling especially tired on Wednesday night, so I laid down on the couch to watch the Indians game and ended up falling asleep at about 9:15. When I woke up about an hour later, I checked Facebook and saw a status from one of my friends referencing that Jason Leffler had passed away earlier in the evening. Not wanting to believe that it was indeed the Jason Leffler I thought she meant, I immediately searched for Leffler on Google, where the reality hit me quickly.
Leffler, 37, had been killed in a wreck at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey, a dirt track outside of the Philadelphia area.
While fans were all giving their thoughts on social media, so were other drivers. And that wasn’t just NASCAR drivers, as Leffler had driven in many different series. There were drivers from every aspect of racing who were giving their memories of Leffler and expressing their disbelief in what had happened. Some even mentioned that while they know every time they strap into the car that they may not make it through the race, it is still a shock when something like this happens.
It was just another example of how close the racing community is, especially when tragedy strikes. It reminded me of the pouring out of support and emotions when Dan Wheldon was killed in the 2011 IndyCar race at Las Vegas.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking part of this story is that Leffler leaves behind a five-year-old son, Charlie Dean. Jeff Gluck of USA Today sent out a tweet from Leffler’s Instagram account of a picture of Jason and Charlie Dean standing outside a racetrack and then tweeted out the link to Jason’s Instagram account.
Taking a few moments to go through the photos – with numerous pictures of Jason and Charlie Dean – it was impossible not to begin to tear up. There was a picture of the two of them together from the day of Charlie Dean’s kindergarten graduation that painted a fantastic picture of father and son. It unfortunately also brought home the stark reality that there was a five-year-old that had spent the final days with his father.
So when you watch the races this weekend, don’t forget – this may look like just a bunch of left turns, but these guys are putting their lives on the line each and every time they fire up a car and they have families like the rest of us.
And at some point, please remember Jason Leffler and say a prayer for Charlie Dean Leffler – the kid needs it right now. After all, this weekend is Father’s Day.
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