Joey Logano said attending Wednesday’s funeral of 5-year-old NASCAR fan Jake Leatherman in Hickory, North Carolina, was a profoundly moving experience.
Leatherman died of juvenile myelomoncytic leukemia and his mom, Crystal, worked with Molly Grantham at Charlotte television station WBTV Channel 3 to get team members to attend Jake’s funeral in their uniforms.
And it worked, as more than 100 drivers, mechanics, crew members and others from Team Penske, Stewart-Haas Racing, Richard Childress Racing, and Richard Petty Motorsports attended.
Friday morning at Phoenix International Raceway, Logano detailed his experience there.
“It was one of the most real moments, one of the proudest moments I have been a part of in this NASCAR community,” said Logano. “To see everyone come together — competitors we compete against every week out here at the race track and fight the crap out of each other every week. To come together as one team and be NASCAR as a whole for a child that who looked at us as superheroes. That is how his family members described what he thought of NASCAR.”
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Logano said he wished he could have met the young NASCAR fan before his untimely passing.
“The only part I was really bummed out about was that I didn’t get to meet him and we didn’t get to do this while he was alive,” said Logano. “That part was kind of the most depressing part for me.
“We all came together and were all there for him but we didn’t get to meet him and give him his race suit and how cool he would have thought that was. To see all his heroes and pit crew members there that day would have been very special.”
The experience was an intense one, Logano said.
“I have never been to a funeral for a child before,” he said. “That is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done … it was definitely eye opening and it puts life into perspective. … We were at a children’s hospital yesterday which was already scheduled but it sure made that visit different for me.”