MORGANTON, N.C., Aug. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Dad didn't race. Mom didn't race. But daughter drives like a proverbial bat out of hell.
Fifteen-year old Gray Leadbetter is one the most promising young drivers in America. Yet, she is the first in her family to pilot a race car. Dad, Steve Leadbetter, never gave racing a second thought when he bought Gray a dirt bike at age three. "I bought her a little electric car, but she was bored with it," says Steve. "So, I bought her a 50cc dirt bike and she just took off – hasn't stopped since!"
So, where does Gray's love of speed originate? Is there a "Speed Gene" that separates racers from the rest of us?
Gray's coach, 2004 Indy 500 Champion Buddy Rice, believes that while there may not be an actual "Speed Gene," successful drivers do possess exceptional natural abilities.
"I think there's truth to that with scientific results that back it up," says Rice. "There are lots of little factors that make a difference, from brain processing, mental capacity, twitch fiber, hand-eye coordination and more. All top level athletes have these attributes."
As for Gray, "She has that sixth sense," says Rice. "…that sensitivity to the car that is something you just can't teach."
"I've always been comfortable at high speed," says Gray. "I'm never normally scared of it." She recognizes that she has exceptional reaction times. "I'm very good at predicting what's going to happen in front of me, and having reaction times that help me avoid wrecks," says Gray.
Last year, she made her professional debut as the youngest competitor, and the only woman, in the Americas Rallycross series. Her teammates on the Dreyer and Reinbold Racing Team were IndyCar drivers J.R. Hildebrand and Sage Karem. That's pretty heady company for a 14-year old.
As she prepares for a new rallycross series, Gray's competing in UTVs with Greaves Motorsports, Legend Cars and Mini-Outlaws. Between races, she trains with Rice at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in a 717hp Dodge Challenger Hellcat.
So, while there may not be a "Speed Gene" per se, Gray is proving that she possesses the exceptional physical and mental abilities required to be successful.
SOURCE Gray Leadbetter Racing