Defending Pro Spec champion showcases resilience with heroic recovery drive in Sunday feature
2022 Championship Off-Road Pro Spec champion Gray Leadbetter raced the Ryan Beat Motorsports #28 Bilstein Chevrolet Colorado to a second place finish in Sunday’s Pro Spec World Championship race from Crandon International Raceway. It was her third podium in four races from The Big House this year, and her ninth in 12 Pro Spec races since her 2023 campaign kicked off.
While the Pro Spec World Championship may not have been a points-paying COR round, Sunday’s action at Crandon is always among the most competitive and prestigious of the year. After running two COR points-paying rounds on Friday and Saturday last year, the latter of which saw Leadbetter win the race and clinch the title, the second Pro Spec race of the weekend became a part of the World Championship program for the first time this year.
After an unlucky break knocked her out of contention on Saturday and with no points on the line for Sunday, that meant it was all about going for the checkered flag, and Leadbetter rose to the occasion. Even after a spin on the second lap sent her to the back of the pack, she was undeterred in her charge back up through the field, getting back up to third by the closing laps and benefitting from another competitor’s mistake on the final lap to sneak back into second.
“We’ll take a second place in the World Championship after the weekend we had!” said Leadbetter. “Saturday was a tough break for us, but I can’t say enough about all the hard work that the R/BM crew put in to get us back in shape for Sunday. Carving our way through the field the way we did was a testament to just how great this truck and team are. I also had a blast meeting the fans at the Team Chevy trailer all weekend—thanks to everyone who spent time with us, and I can’t wait to get back next season!”
Now that Crandon is in the books, Leadbetter’s focus returns to points racing on September 23-24 with the MidAmerica Off-Road Nationals at MidAmerica Outdoors. It marks the first time that COR has staged a championship event at the Oklahoma track, but Leadbetter is no stranger to the facility, having raced in the Nitrocross SXS class there earlier this year and testing the FC1-X there with action sports legend Travis Pastrana in the passenger seat. She’ll enter the weekend third in series points as one of only three drivers to have won a race this season. Tickets for the season finale at MidAmerica are available here.
Gray would also like to send her condolences to the family and friends of fellow Pro Spec competitor Cory Podolski, also known as “Cpod,” who passed away unexpectedly over the weekend:
“As the weekend ended we all woke up with news no one wanted to hear. We will forever remember Cpod. He was a friend to everyone and always made the best out of the situation, and he taught everyone in his path to live life to the fullest.
I will always miss our laughs in staging before going out on the track, but I’m so thankful to have gotten to complete against him the past five years. He was one of the first people I knew in the off road community. Knowing he was able to go to sleep that night after living out his dream of getting a pro truck podium at Crandon on Sunday makes it a little bit easier. Rest easy Cpod.” – Gray Leadbetter
Finally, 2023 Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame Impact Awards Voters Choice selections have been extended through Friday, September 8. Leadbetter is up against fellow Short Course honorees Kyle Chaney and Cory Winner for Voters Choice, with winners announced on September 9’s Induction & Awards Gala at the South Point in Las Vegas. ORMHOF membership is $50; to become a member and receive an email ballot to vote for Gray, click here.
Gray Leadbetter’s 2023 Championship Off-Road program with Ryan Beat Motorsports is supported by Chevrolet, Bilstein, Pennzoil, Toyo Tires, Tremor Wheels, Steel-It, Sunoco Race Fuel, RIGID, Magnaflow, Mechanix Wear, FK Rod Ends, Hyperco, Brembo Brakes, Ehren, Fortin Racing, Fiberwerx, Automatic Transmission Design, Power Steering Solution, Geiser Performance, Antigravity Batteries, Hawk Performance, DS Customs, and Calico Coatings.