On behalf of the PRI team, I wish to express our appreciation and utmost respect for all of Jason Leffler’s extraordinary achievements in the sport of auto racing, and share our condolences with his family and his friends.
As one of Steve Lewis’ drivers in the #9 Midget, many of the PRI team got to know Jason. He was a fierce competitor, a real champion, and a great guy.
I recall Steve telling a story about an incident that occurred when data acquisition was first starting to filter down into the grassroots ranks of racing, and the #9 team was testing at Phoenix. As one of his drivers approached one of the turns, it was discovered that a dip in the track surface would cause the car to jump to the right and the driver would immediately lift off the throttle. You could see it in the data. He sent Jason out. There was no lifting when the car jumped. Steve was able to tell the other driver, “Don’t lift.”
I also recall Jason helping us out with a new event we created, called the Festival of Speed. We held it at Irwindale Speedway the day of another event we were promoting, the Twin 25s Midget race. As part of the Festival of Speed, there was a quarter midget competition. We asked Jason to come over as a former quarter midget competitor and spend time as a celebrity driver with the kids. He was quiet, but he was all smiles, happy to sign autographs. At one point, the diminutive Leffler even crawled back into a quarter midget. It was a tight fit, but he made it, much to the delight of the crowd that had gathered around him.
A three-time USAC National Midget Champion and a USAC Silver Crown Champion, as well as a winner of the Turkey Night Grand Prix and other major races, Leffler was plenty amazing before he reached NASCAR.
Jason Leffler was one of those racers who demonstrated that human beings are capable of so much. We are deeply saddened to have lost him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.