Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports

June 21, 2013

Recent tragedies in racing world hit hard

Young shoe Larson getting really good, really fast.

Just a few thoughts from the goings on in the racing the world the last three weeks.

First and foremost is the sting that losing first Josh Burton, then Jason Leffler inflicted upon hearing the news of both drivers losing their lives in sprint car races.

Burton competed at both Kokomo and Gas City on occasion and was an extremely likeable young man. Although he only raced a sprint car for a couple years, he was one of those young guns who most expected to be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

Leffler tragically lost his life in a winged sprint car last week. He burst onto the racing scene as a multiple-time USAC Honda National Midget Series champion. A longtime friend of Tony Stewart, he followed Stewart, competing in the Indy Racing League and then to the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In an interview prior to his tragic accident, Leffler noted how he was excited to compete in the winged sprint car world at tracks out east.

It seems like everything is cyclical, just about the time that we as fans and members of the media begin to feel that the cars are more safe now than they’ve ever been, incidents like both of the above-mentioned occur that bring the stark reality that every time a driver straps into his or her race car the possibility is there that they could very well got seriously hurt if not worse.

Seeing Kokomo’s Josh Spencer’s violent flip in turn one Sunday night quickly sapped all the excitement I had after watching one of the best features I’ve seen in quite some time as part of the USAC Honda National Midget Series Indiana Midget Week.

Spencer’s accident happened on the fourth lap of the feature while he was battling for the third position in a stellar field of sprint cars. Fortunately, he was released from the hospital after being diagnosed with a concussion, but after viewing replays over and over of the crash, it could just as easily been a lot worse.

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