50 Greatest Modified Drivers – Jan Leaty
“Family Man – Racer”
Jan Leaty has only one career win at Stafford Motor Speedway, but it was a big one: The 1996 200-lap Spring Sizzler®. A regular on the NASCAR Modified Tour, Leaty, at the urging of friends, began his career in 1978 in the Street Stock division at Spencer Speedway in his hometown of Williamson, New York. Leaty progressed through the ranks and in 1981 and 1982 finished second and third in the National Street Stock event at the Pocono Raceway. Leaty moved up to the Modifieds in 1983 and ran mainly at Spencer and Tioga Speedways. By 1986 he had reached the top of his class and at season’s end was rewarded with the Modified track Championship at Spencer. He duplicated that effort at Tioga in 1989 and 1990, plus earned the title of NASCAR Northeast Regional Champion in 1989.
Married and a father of two, Leaty was a regular competitor on the NASCAR Modified Tour since it began in 1985 through 2004 along with a partial season in 2008. Running mostly in his own equipment, Leaty won 9 Modified Tour events. In addition to his Stafford Sizzler win, he has won at Loudon, New Hampshire and Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
Leaty took a different direction in 1998. He sold all of his equipment and cars to Gary Cretty on Long Island but continued on as the driver. The new team was just beginning to gel when Leaty crashed hard at Loudon in early August and suffered fractures of the skull and neck. Leaty ran one more full season in 1999 before running partial schedules from 2000-2004 and 2008. Jan Leaty is one of the Fifty Greatest Modified Drivers of All-Time as voted by the public, part of the Stafford Salutes NASCAR at 50 program.
By: Phil Smith