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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Leeper to be honorary official at Daytona

Daytona International Speedway president calls Paralympian from Kingsport ‘true inspiration and legend in the making’


From staff reports

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The American Blade Runner and The Great American Race will come face to face next month.

Paralympic athlete Blake Leeper will serve as honorary race official for the 56th annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 23rd at Daytona International Speedway.

As honorary race official, the Kingsport native will be introduced at the driver’s meeting, participate in prerace ceremonies and ride in one of the honorary race official vehicles ahead of the 43-car field for the prestigious 200-lap, 500-mile event.

“Blake Leeper is a true inspiration and a legend in the making,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “We are honored to have him participate in the pre-race ceremonies at the ‘World Center of Racing’ for the thrilling and historic Daytona 500.”

Leeper, a Dobyns-Bennett High School alum who attended Tennessee before transferring to San Diego State, was born without legs from the knees down because of a congenital birth defect.

In 2008, he started intensively running after the Challenged Athlete Foundation presented him with a grant for state-ofthe-art blade prosthetics.

Leeper won the silver medal in the 400-meter dash and the bronze in the 200 at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. He captured gold in the 400-meter relay at the 2013 IPC Worlds in Lyon, France.

Leeper is currently training for the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he would become the first double-amputee American to compete in the Olympic Games.

For more information on Leeper, go to

For more information on the Daytona 500, go to