As with all things, life must come to an end. Sometimes anticipated, yet other times sudden, the jarring impact tends to linger, the curling smoke after a candle’s flame has been blown out. You are left shaken and confused. Nothing can ever seem right again. A part of your soul has left the earth with your loved one.
That’s how the entire racing community feels in the wake of Jason Leffler’s passing. He sustained the fatal injuries after a Sprint car wreck at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey. A winner in the Trucks and Nationwide series, he will be missed more than words can relay.
I could hide the hurt by ranting about safety and the dangers of dirt racing, which I do more often than necessary, but this isn’t a time for defense tactics. I’m not here to talk about that; I’m here to talk about his son.
Jason’s Instagram is full of pictures, yet the ones that resonate the most involve him and Charlie Dean. A youngster who graduated Kindergarten at the end of May, Charlie is around the track, playing, smiling in these captured memories. Many of those close to Leffler say that he was an amazing father; that radiates greatly from the pictures I’ve seen.
Sunday is Father’s Day, and it never seemed so weighty until now.
When tragic things like this happen, it’s sometimes hard to put them into perspective, relate them to yourself. I automatically put myself in Charlie’s shoes, and it was the most heart-wrenching pain I have ever experienced. Obviously it isn’t exactly the same because he is so young, yet it was eye-opening.
It didn’t just remind me how much I love my dad; it showed me how we take things for granted. Sometimes it’s racing, sometimes it’s people. Either way, we get lost in the thick of things. We hold grudges. We rant and scream about things we can’t change. We forget how life really works.
As much as I talk about and, at times, berate racing and NASCAR, it’s everything that makes up my heart and soul. Days like today point out the cathartic beauty in such a dangerous sport: the ability to provide perspective on things greater than battling racecars.
Also, because I don’t say it enough… I love my dad. Even if he runs out in the middle of hailstorms to pick up souvenirs, picks and prods into my life, or drives like a grandma, he is the most important man in my life. That will never change. He has made so many impacts on my life, but one looms large in my mind right now: racing.
I will always thank him for giving me a love for racing. Like Jason Leffler gave to Charlie.
Continuous prayers are being sent for Jason’s family and, most importantly, his son.