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Leakey Was No Ringer, Just the Best 'Race for Riley' Driver
A little more than two weeks ago The Banner received the e-mail announcing details of the Kroger Race for Riley, presented by Cheerios, which is held annually at the New Castle Motorsports Park.
By the time we got around to discussing the actual media race, the event was five days away. That presented the first problem – who’s going to drive the go-kart? As the sports guy at The Banner, it’s my place to represent the newspaper in the annual media race. I drove in the event last year, and despite crashing twice, cracking a couple of ribs and tearing up a go-kart, I had a lot of fun.
However, this year there would be no chance of me racing a go-kart. I’m almost blind and have no peripheral vision in my one partially-working eye. The thought of me getting into a kart and racing 14 other karts through sharp turns at nearly 45 mph was never even considered.
We needed a substitute driver to take my place and represent the newspaper. We found one in local insurance agent Chad Leakey, and he promptly won the race going away.
Well, like all sports giants who reach a pinnacle of greatness, Leakey has had his share of detractors. For example, Courier-Times sports editor Jeremy Hines subliminally suggested in his newspaper column that Leakey might have been some type of kart racing “ringer.”
The truth is Banner publisher Eric Cox was frantically trying to find a replacement driver for the Chrome Dome. He couldn’t drive the kart himself because when he’s just trying to sit in one of those vehicles, Cox looks more like he’s trying to put on a roller skate than get in a kart. Go-karts aren’t designed for 6’6”, 250-lb. men.
As an unforeseen bonus, Leakey did have a little background in racing. When he was three years old, he could push his little Matchbox cars faster than anyone else in the neighborhood. And, at the age of seven, Leakey actually entered a go-kart race, although he didn’t win.
Go figure. Leakey can’t beat a bunch of seven-year-olds, but he can beat members of Indiana’s mainstream media.
Leakey hadn’t raced or driven a go-cart since about the age of eight. But, we surmised, that still gave him better odds than a driver that might not see a turn and end up on I-70.
Leakey blew away the field, taking the lead on the first lap and was never seriously threatened. By the end of the race he had lapped all of the field but three cars.
Leakey was driving kart number 14. In case you are curious, kart 14 finished sixth in the previous race, and then seventh in the sponsor race that followed the media contest. That’s three races with finishes of 6th, 1st and 7th for kart number 14. Obviously, it wasn’t the kart that made the difference; it was, in fact, the driver.
Now, if you want to talk conspiracy theories, let’s discuss the “Best Lap Speeds” recorded for each driver during the race, according to mylaps.com, where the official results are posted.
Hines, who finished (clearing my throat) sixth in the official standings, had a top lap speed of 39.71 seconds. No fewer than 10 drivers turned in faster lap speeds, yet five somehow finished “behind” Hines in the final standings.
Hmm, I’ll let you all be the judge of that one.
But seriously, Hines is a great guy and I was happy to see him finish sixth in the race, even though he intentionally knocked me out of the race a year earlier.
On a serious note, there were two accidents during the media race. Joey Cooper of the Middletown News flipped his kart over after going into a sharp turn, and the vehicle landed upside-down. Cooper was taken to the hospital and suffered a fractured arm. He is healing and in great spirits.
Also, after Leakey had crossed the finish line and exited his kart, a group of people had gathered around next to where the karts were being parked by drivers. About that time, one of the kart drivers came barreling down pit row screaming that he had no brakes, and people were scrambling to get out of the way.
There were no serious injuries, but some didn’t make it out of the way in time. One of those injured was Dick Leakey, who had just watched his son win the race.
So overall, once again, the New Castle Motorsports Park produced a first class event that was enjoyed by many and contributed to a very worthy charitable cause. The media hotshots from Indianapolis were all there to drive, professional racing legends John Andretti and Tony Stewart did their part, and a first-class fundraiser was again a success.
It was a job well done by all of those involved in another outstanding event that was enjoyed by all who participated and watched.
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The Banner, PO Box 116, Knightstown, IN 46148 (765) 345-2292