Matt Leicht, along with his brother Kevin, knew racing would be a huge part of their life by the time he could say “race car”.
His Mom Sharon’s family had been involved in racing with her brother Jr. Franks competing in tracks all around Western N.C. for the last 30 years.
Leicht’s Dad’s side of the family were involved in racing before his father Eugene Leight was even born. His Grandfather, Gene, was a racer in Florida before the family moved to Western N.C. in the early ’80′s along with his Great Uncle Russ Leight whom purchased the Asheville Motor Speedway and promoted races there for over 20 years.
Leicht’s older cousin Stephen went on to drive for the famed Robert Yates Racing team winning a Nationwide Series race early in his career along with ROTY honors in the Sprint Cup Series in 2012.
Leicht’s dad is the owner of Leight Race Cars where they build and fabricate all different types of race cars and trucks along with components.
Leicht began holding a steering wheel at the age of five, racing go karts. He was a veteran by the time he made the move to the big cars at the age of 14.
When asked how many Championships he’d been able to claim over the years, he simply replied….. NONE.
“I race for wins,” Leicht said matter-of-factly.
Hickory Motor Speedway was his first venture into the bigger cars when he ran in the Limited Late Model division in 2005. The next year he moved up to the feature division at Hickory racing in the Late Model division.
In 2007, Leicht’s career headed to the UARA touring series, a hot bed for many years for talent moving up through racing circles to be seen by the top NASCAR teams.
In 2008 Matt went and purchased a dirt late model and competed in the Carolinas and East Tennessee, where he picked up the nickname of “Showtime”.
Newport Motor Speedway was his primary track for the 2009 season while 2010 took him to the Super Late Model PASS Series. 2011 was another year in the PASS Series while 2012 began a new journey and the place where Leicht continues to call home.
Leicht is a part of the inaugural group of racers that began and helped get the Southeast Super Truck Series off the ground running. He won in the first trip to Kingsport Speedway in April 2012 on a cold night.
In 2013 Leicht was at Hickory Motor Speedway and broke a transmission in the last practice session. His team changed the tranny out in time for qualifying and went on to win the race.
The nickname he picked up wheeling a dirt car in 2008 always stuck in his mind, so once Leicht decided to open up a country night club; the “Showtime Saloon” was born. Located in Fletcher, N.C. and opening in Nov. 2012 it became another family venture.
Leicht faced the challenge of trying to fit a 30 hour work day into a 24 hour day. After his brother Kevin won the first race at Newport Motor Speedway in 2013, his race trailer with race truck inside caught fire on the way home and was totally destroyed. No time and a huge financial set back for the family teams proved to to be too much to continue in 2013 on a regular basis. Kevin was able to keep the candle burning on the race track while Leicht focused on the club.
As we head to Tri-County Motor Speedway for this weekend’s SEST event, Leicht has this date circled on the calendar. His Great Uncle Russ was also promoter at this track when Leicht was a kid and where he got his first laps in a Late Model car.
When I asked Leicht who his racing hero was he said without hesitation….. Carl Edwards. Edwards came from nothing and was persistent knocking on doors to reach his dream.
With the “Showtime Saloon” now the largest Country Night Club in Western, N.C., Leicht is reaching his dream and says now it’s time to pick back up where he left off at Hickory in 2013…… and that’s in Victory Lane this weekend.