MONTGOMERY, AL - Unlike his peers, 14-year-old Stephen Leicht shies away from go-karts and scooters because there's too big a risk of injury. Instead, he's safely strapped in a five-point harness in a 2,800 pound late model stock car. The ...
MONTGOMERY, AL - Unlike his peers, 14-year-old Stephen Leicht shies away from go-karts and scooters because there's too big a risk of injury. Instead, he's safely strapped in a five-point harness in a 2,800 pound late model stock car.
The Ashville, NC, teenager is a professional race car driver, and will be among the favorites - to win! - Saturday night's American Racing Association (ARA) Southern Thunder 125 late model stock car race at Montgomery Motor Speedway.
He'll be driving the #99 Action Racing Collectibles Chevrolet in the 125-lap race that will start at 8 p.m. Saturday. He won an ARA Southern Thunder (www.americanracingassociation.com) race at Montgomery Motor Speedway on June 23, and is currently in a tight battle for the series championship.
After eight events, Leicht is third with 167 points, just 19 behind leader Paul Kelley of Snellville, GA (#24 Roy Kelley Chevrolet) and six points behind second place Michael Lange of Dacula, GA (#4 Lance Used Auto Parts Chevrolet).
"Last year, last year when I was running the Kool Seal Challenge (ARA's late model stock series), I think a lot of (older) drivers didn't think I belonged out there at first," Leicht says. "But I raced them clean, and earned their respect."
This season, that respect has developed into a serious concern about how to beat the Carolina Kid, a rising ninth-grader who won't turn 15 until Jan. 9th.
So how did a teenager (www.stephenleicht.com) get to this stage of a well-scripted career?
He started racing when he was six, and moved up to quarter midgets, and then go-karts. He moved into full-bodied stock cars after an accident in a go-kart race in Charlotte.
"Go-karts were so unsafe," Leicht says. "Stock cars are much safer, and it's awesome to have that much power. Most of my friends don't believe I'm a professional race car driver, but I had to give up a lot of school activities to race. While they're going to movies or swimming or hanging out on weekends, I'm racing. And I'm having fun."
Practice for the Southern Thunder Late Models goes from 2-4 p.m. Grandstand gates open at 5 p.m., with qualifying at 6 p.m. An autograph session is scheduled for 7 p.m., with the 125-lap scheduled for an 8 p.m. start.
Tickets are priced at $12 for adults, $8 for military, seniors and ages 13-18, and $2 for ages 7-17. Children under 6 are free. A special family pack of two adult and two children 18 and under is priced at $25.