AVONDALE, Ariz. — Joey Logano joined roughly 60 members of the NASCAR community this week attending the funeral of a young boy whom they’d never met.
The poignant display of uniformed crew members and drivers was all for Jake Leatherman, who died earlier this month following a long battle with leukemia. Charlotte news anchor Molly Grantham of WBTV had posted a request from Leatherman’s mother asking for people from the NASCAR garage to show up in uniform for his funeral.
Logano and fellow drivers Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Ellis and JJ Yeley were among those who answered the call, along with crew members from teams like Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports (some of whom served as pallbearers).
PHOTOS: Joey Logano
In addition, Logano’s wife Brittany arranged for a custom firesuit for Leatherman to be buried with.
“I walked into the bus after qualifying (at Texas Motor Speedway) on Friday night, and she was inside crying,” Logano said. “I thought, ‘Oh no, what did I walk into?’ She had just watched the (WBTV) video and told me about him and how he was a big race fan, and I thought it would be cool if we could do something for his funeral.
“It was one of the most real moments, one of the proudest moments I have been a part of in this NASCAR community, to come together as one team and be NASCAR as a whole for a child who looked at us as superheroes. That is how his family members described what he thought of NASCAR.”
Logano and his wife do not have children yet, and they had never been to a child’s funeral. The 26-year-old said it “tore my heart out” and called it “one of the hardest things I have ever done.”
But he was glad the NASCAR garage could rally for a family who needed comfort at an agonizing time.
“It was definitely eye-opening and puts life into perspective,” he said.
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