The NASCAR community was dealt a heartbreaking blow last night when driver Jason Leffler was killed in a crash during a 410 sprint car race at New Jersey’s Bridgeport Speedway. Running second with just a few laps left, Leffler crashed into a wall, flipped several times and fell unconscious. He was quickly airlifted by helicopter to Chester, Pennsylvania’s Crozer-Chester Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead just after 9 p.m. Eastern time. A subsequent autopsy report listed the cause of Leffler’s death as blunt force trauma to the neck.
Leffler began racing at age 12 and started his professional career in the mid 1990s, racing midget cars in the USAC series. He quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the tracks, winning three consecutive midget championships in 1997, 1998 and 1999. He also was the 1998 Silver Crown series champion and winner of the Hut Hundred and Belleville Nationals in 1997; the Turkey Night Grand Prix in 1999 and 2005; and the Copper Classic in 1999. In 2003, he was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
Nicknamed “Lefturn,” Leffler switched to NASCAR for the 2000 season, driving full-time for the number eighteen MBNA sponsored Busch team and moving up to the Winston Cup Series the next season. He remained a fixture on the NASCAR field over the years, racing for Chip Ganassi Racing, Ultra Motorsports, Haas CNC Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Braun Racing, Kyle Busch Motorsports, Robinson-Blakeney Racing and Humphrey Smith Racing.
Over his career, Leffler racked up four USAC championships, 56 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, and 294 career Nationwide Series starts.
After news broke of the 37-year-old’s death, many in professional racing took to social media to express their condolences and offer prayers for Leffler’s family, including his five-year-old son Charlie Dean.
“I’m completely devastated to hear about Jason Leffler. It doesn’t seem real. Pray for his family tonight,” Nationwide Series driver Trevor Bayne wrote on Twitter.
Veteran NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler also tweeted: “Sitting here in disbelief. All I can think about is Charlie. Prayers to his little boy.”
We here at E3 Spark Plugs also offer our condolences to Leffler’s family and friends, especially little Charlie.