Gray Leadbetter and her primary sponsor, ReadyWise makers of freeze-dried emergency food, have an ambitious schedule for 2023. Driving for Marc Dailey Racing, Gray will compete in at least 30 sprint car races throughout America’s heartland in the All-Star Circuit of Champions Series. Since it was founded in 1970, it is considered by some to be the first “outlaw” sprint car series of the modern era. It is owned by racing legend, Tony Stewart, who has big plans for the series. The races are presently streamed live on television and online by the subscription service, FloRacing.
None of this was planned. No one in my family had any previous interest or experience in motorsports. But by the age of two, I discovered that I LIKE TO GO FAST! It began with a silly, battery-powered 4-wheeler and by the age of three, I was blasting through the woods on a Yamaha PW50 motorcycle. I was hooked. Fortunately, I had a dad who supported my passion for racing.
At 5-years old, I began racing motorcycles in arenacross and discovered that racing against others makes going fast even more fun. From there, it was a natural progression into kart racing. The competition in karting is fierce because that’s where all the young drivers with dreams of NASCAR, Indy or F1 go to prove themselves. I learned that I thrive under pressure.
Opportunities to drive in other motorsports presented themselves and I jumped at the opportunity. I was driving a SXS in closed-course off-road racing, a legend car on pavement and mini-outlaw sprints on dirt ovals. Along the way I had the good fortune to meet Swedish rally champion, Patrik Sandell and trained with him on a frozen lake in Sweden. State-side, my good fortune continued and I received personal training from 2004 Indy 500 Champion, Buddy Rice.
My big break in the pro ranks came in 2019 when I signed with Dreyer-Reinbold Racing of Indycar fame to be part of the team’s effort in the Americas Rallycross Series. What an experience. At the age of 14, I was competing against former and current Indycar drivers.
In 2021, I moved into the pro class in Championship Off-Road driving a SXS Pro Mod for the Greaves Motorsports Team. I was the first woman to win a Pro Class race and finished third in the championship. During that year, I also joined Marc Dailey Racing and started campaigning a sprint car. I was in love. There was nothing to compare to the raw performance of a sprint car.
In 2022, in addition to a full season in sprint cars, I had to opportunity to drive the Ryan Beat Motorsports #28 Bilstein Chevy in the new Pro Spec Class in Championship Off-Road. With four 1st, I won the overall championship by a single point and became the first woman ever to a Pro Class Championship.
My main area of concentration in 2023 will be driving a Marc Dailey Racing 410 sprint car in the All Star Circuit of Champions Series. The competition is intense and the learning curve is steep, but that’s never held me back before.