- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
NASCAR drivers among 800 at Leffler funeral
Question of the Day
CORNELIUS, N.C. (AP) - The funeral service for NASCAR driver Jason Leffler drew Sprint Cup stars Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle and Brad Keselowski among the more than 800 people who filled Grace Covenant Church on Wednesday.
The 37-year-old Leffler, known by the nickname “LEFturn,” died a week ago when his sprint car crashed into a wall at a New Jersey dirt track.
The hour-long service detailed Leffler’s passion for racing and his achievements on open-wheel and NASCAR tracks. Friends and colleagues, however, spent much of the funeral focusing on Leffler’s evolution as a father to his 5-year-old son, Charlie Dean.
“Jason was, by far, the best dad in our small world down here,” said Jeff Dickerson, of Spire Sports and Entertainment, which represented Leffler. “He started to display a more sensitive side that inspired me to be a better father.
“We will have a responsibility in helping his son know who he was and how much he cared for his son. We have to let him know about his dad as a racer and a man.”
No coffin was present during the service, which also was attended by NASCAR President Mike Helton, team owner Chip Ganassi, and Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs. Other Sprint Cup drivers at the service included Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and David Stremme.
Stenhouse Jr. and Kahne were close to Leffler from their days in sprint car racing, and Kahne had Dale Earnhardt Jr. fill in for him at Thursday’s testing in Atlanta so he could attend the funeral.
Also present were Nationwide drivers Reed Sorenson, Mike Bliss, Kyle Larson, Michael Annett, Steve Wallace, Landon Cassill and Josh Wise, as well as Shane Hmiel, a former NASCAR driver who was paralyzed in qualifying for a USAC Silver Crown race.
The front of the church’s sanctuary was lined with flowers from well-wishers, along with photos and mementos from Leffler’s career, including his racing gloves and some helmets still covered with dirt and debris.
None of the drivers or NASCAR officials spoke during the service, but a Spire Sports representative highlighted the need to look after Charlie.
“I saw his transformation from Jason the driver to Jason the dad,” said Todd Braun, former owner of Braun Racing, one of Leffler’s former teams . “I never saw more of a transformation of a person than I saw in Jason.”
There were plenty of tears, but reminisces about Leffler’s wild side also drew laughs.
“He said, `That’s OK, as long as I can wound people first,’” Crosswhite said, prompting laughter from the crowd. “Jason was wonderfully made. He was unique in so many ways.”
Dickerson said he and Leffler had many conversations about death. He was proud that Leffler made the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003 and was still participating in the sport that he loved.
“I’m sure most people in here will say this is exactly how Jason wanted to go, and that makes it a little easier to handle,” Dickerson said. “But the fact of the matter is, he wasn’t ready to go yet. He was having the time of his life racing these cars.”
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago
- Washington Times strikes content and marketing partnership with Redskins
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- DCCC raising money on suggestion Obama impeachment is imminent
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Federal judge rules D.C. ban on handguns in public is unconstitutional
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq