Skip to content

Police investigation: Mechanical failure led to Jason Leffler crash, death

Jun 21, 2013, 11:26 PM EDT

This was the car Jason Leffler was driving when it suffered mechanical failure, according to a report issued Friday by the New Jersey state police. Reuters

Following more than a week-long investigation, New Jersey state police said the wreck that claimed the life of NASCAR driver Jason Leffler in a June 12 dirt track race in Bridgeport, N.J., was caused by a mechanical problem.

While the report is not fully completed, several findings have come to light to explain much of the reason why Leffler’s car suddenly went out of control and flipped several times before coming to rest. Leffler was taken to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead less than an hour after the wreck, which occurred shortly after 9 pm ET.

Police believe a torsion stop, which is part of the sprint car’s suspension, somehow broke off and became lodged between a wheel and the steering control system, rendering the car uncontrollable. The car came out of the fourth turn, spun, then hit the outside concrete retaining wall, flipping several times before coming to a rest, as well.

While the report has not determined how fast Leffler was going when the crash occurred, the police report said cars were averaging 135 mph and as high as 150 mph on both straightaways during the course of the race.

The official cause of death, as determined by a local medical examiner, has been ruled blunt-force injuries to Leffler’s neck.

Leffler, 37, was buried Wednesday, one week after the tragedy. He leaves behind a five-year-old son. A trust fund for Leffler’s son has been established by several of Leffler’s fellow NASCAR drivers.

Longtime friend and mentor Tony Stewart, a three-time Sprint Cup champion who also co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing and owns or has partial ownership in several short tracks like the New Jersey facility, said last week in Michigan that the facility was not at fault.

“It was an accident,” Stewart said. “Just like if you go out and there’s a car crash. It’s an accident. Nobody as a track owner wants to go through what happened this week, but it’s not due to a lack of effort on their part to try to make their facilities as safe as possible under the conditions they have.”

Latest Posts
  1. Insight: Planning Andretti’s Sports Marketing promotional efforts at Miami and NOLA

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    GERMANY-AUTOMOBILE-ECONOMY-FAIR-IAA Getty Images

    Andretti Sports Marketing explains some of the tricks to the trade in promoting new race events, with Miami and NOLA set for 2015.

  2. “What’Cha Got” Episode 1: Chandler Hoffman sets the bar (VIDEO)

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    HoffmanLAWCG Getty Images

    LA Galaxy’s Chandler Hoffman first up in “What’Cha Got” presented by Continental Tire show to drive a Lamborghini.

  3. NASCAR AMERICA: Parity among Chase teams in Eliminator Round (VIDEO)

    Oct 20, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Geico 500 Getty Images

    Six different teams are represented among the eight remaining Chasers, and NASCAR’s post-season is starting to resemble another familiar tournament. NASCAR AMERICA’s Kyle Petty and Jeff Burton discuss.

  4. NASCAR AMERICA: Is Ryan Newman’s Chase status up in the air? (VIDEO)

    Oct 20, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT

    Hollywood Casino 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Newman, one of the “Eliminator 8,” may be penalized tomorrow by NASCAR after his car was found to be too low following Sunday’s race at Talladega. Nate Ryan has more on the situation.

  5. Everything you need to know about the 2014 Chasers at Martinsville

    Oct 20, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 Powered By Kroger Getty Images

    Notes and numbers to keep in mind as the 8 remaining Chasers prepare to begin the Eliminator Round.

  6. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 7 p.m. ET recaps Talladega

    Oct 20, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    nascar america

    Recapping Talladega on NASCAR AMERICA.

  7. Despite elimination, Kyle Busch’s crew chief says Chase format is fair

    Oct 20, 2014, 6:01 PM EDT

    Geico 500 Getty Images

    A great post-season for Busch was erased by a mid-race crash on Sunday at Talladega, but crew chief Dave Rogers says there’s no point in blaming the rules of the new Chase.

  8. Remembering racing legend Raymond Beadle: ‘Once upon a time, I was the best at what I did’

    Oct 20, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    Raymond Beadle, who passed away Monday at the age of 70. (Photo courtesy Dave Rieff, ESPN) Raymond Beadle, who passed away Monday at the age of 70. (Photo courtesy Dave Rieff, ESPN)

    They say they always do things bigger in Texas, and that phrase would perfectly describe legendary former drag racer and NASCAR team owner Raymond Beadle.

  9. Doug Coby earns second NASCAR Whelen Mods title in three years

    Oct 20, 2014, 3:07 PM EDT

    NASCAR Whelen Modfiied Tour - Sunoco World Series 150 presented by Xtra Mart  - Thompson Getty Images

    Coby finishes 17th in the season finale at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway, but earns the 2014 series title by 22 points over race winner Ryan Preece.

  10. 3-time NHRA champ, NASCAR team owner Raymond Beadle dead at 70

    Oct 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Photo courtesy: BlueMaxRacing.net Photo courtesy: BlueMaxRacing.net

    Beadle helped bring the “Blue Max” brand to prominence in drag racing, and guided NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace to his lone Winston Cup title.

  11. DTM champion Marco Wittmann to test for Toro Rosso

    Oct 20, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    WittmannDTM Getty Images

    DTM champion will test for Toro Rosso.

  12. Penske’s dream season still alive in Sprint Cup

    Oct 20, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    PenskeDega Getty Images

    Both of Team Penske’s drivers advance to Eliminator round of Chase, which saves the ignominy of one of the winningest drivers this year going home.

  13. FIA creates accident panel to investigate Jules Bianchi crash

    Oct 20, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ENG-SILVERSTONE Getty Images

    The organization says it will make a full presentation on its findings during the next World Motor Sport Council meeting in December.

  14. Weekend wrap: Brad Keselowski rises up to Talladega challenge

    Oct 20, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    Geico 500 Getty Images

    Love him or loathe him, Keselowski deserves respect for coming through in the clutch like he did on Sunday.

  15. Besides Cassill, several others score season-bests at Talladega

    Oct 20, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    WaltripDega2 Getty Images

    After Cassill, Kvapil’s sixth leads a quartet of more surprise drivers in top-20 Sunday at Talladega.

  16. Daniel Ricciardo makes a trip to Supercross in Las Vegas (PHOTOS)

    Oct 20, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Ricciardo comes to the U.S. early for Supercross.

Video from NASCAR America

Terry Labonte's milestone race
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. B. Keselowski (1915)
  2. K. Busch (1842)
  3. J. McMurray (1244)
  4. T. Stewart (1186)
  5. J. Gordon (1056)