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Leon gruber memorial 50

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  • Leon gruber memorial 50


    "Respect isn't given but earned and you earned it girl" Those were the words Leon Gruber said to me after helping our team at Five Mile Point Speedway. Words that have never been forgotten because of the man who had spoken them. When the memorial race for Leon was announced everyone agreed the venue was the perfect fit. 50 laps of door to door small track racing at its best, $1,000 to win and Leon's favorite track on the Xcel Chassis circuit.
    Kutztown Fair Speedway will be a popular place to be on Wed. Aug. 15th with the first running of the Leon Gruber Memorial 50. Doug Borger, series founder stated, " I wanted to honor Leon and his legacy just as he carried himself on and off the track, You can walk around the pits on any given night and never hear one bad thing said about him. He was a class act and I know we can give him the show he deserves. This is the only appearance for the tour division and what better way to honor Leon."
    Before the race was officially announced Big Creek Concrete signed on to be the $1,000 sponsor for the race. Owner Butch Getz, 600 modified driver, was at Doug's shop when the final plans were set in place." I asked Doug if he had any sponsors lined up and when he told me no I let him know right away I wanted to do it. Leon was and still is remembered with high respect from not only this series but every class Kevin ran. I consider it a privilege to be involved in honoring a man who I held in high regards and always will."
    Leon and JoAnn have been married for over thirty years and raised a family to be proud of. Lisa being the oldest, LeAnn being the youngest, named after dad and mom , and their only son Kevin . While talking to Kevin I had to ask why we didn't see his mom around the track more and with a grin he told me the story." We were racing with the 600 sprint and I got involved in a wreck and flipped a couple of times. The last thing you want to do is get in a mothers way when she thinks one of her kids is hurt. My mom didn't care what the officials said and made her way to the track, once she found out I was ok then she left but it wasn't quick enough for the track so they had to kick her off the track. She wouldn't be able to sit by if something happened so rather than getting asked to leave she would go a couple of times a year. Now that I have my son, Brayden, I laugh every time I think about it but I wasn't laughing that night. My mom may not have been at the track every week but she put up with us 6 nights a week in the garage making all kinds of racket."

    "My dad was always my number one fan. I didn't realize growing up the life lessons I was being taught thru racing until I was older. One night me and my buddy Keith were working on a wiring harness with a soldering iron. After three or four hours my dad came out to see if we were ok and then asked what we were burning. I told him nothing but he kept saying he smelled something burning. When I looked down I saw my father was standing on the soldering iron and burning his boot. The funniest part about it was we couldn't tell him right away cause we were laughing so hard and when it went thru the boot he was jumping around trying to put is boot out but laughing just as hard as we were. That's when my dad became my biggest motivator. Little did I know that the tables would be turned when he got sick."
    Leon was diagnosed with cancer and the fight was on. He was not only motivated but determined to see his son win a race with the 600 modified. Kevin had run other divisions and went to victory lane. He came close with the modified but it still wasn't a win. In 2011, the month of July would see Kevin not only hit victory lane on July 13th but go back to back on July 20th.. The second win came after a 10 lap shootout with Andy Ressler with Kevin winning by inches. Both wins would come at Kutztown and you could see Leon beaming from ear to ear not only on those nights but every time you mentioned Kutztown.
    Leon's legacy didn't start Sept. 4 of 2011 when he passed away. His legacy started years before and will continue thru his children, grandchild and to everyone that was lucky enough to have met a man that impacted so many lives. He never looked for the spotlight but always the good out of everything and always found it.
    On August 15th at Kutztown Fair Speedway ,the Xcel Chassis 600 modifieds will honor the man who impacted so many lives on and off the track. A man who was loved by his family dearly, highly respected by friends and admired by many. A man who was just happy being Leon Gruber.