One of the most recognized races at Meridian Speedway (ID) and most coveted trophies is that of the Leeroy Nelson Memorial race. For local racer Colton Nelson, the grandson of the late Leeroy Nelson, the trophy represents a whole lot more than just bragging rights.
In his fifth attempt at winning the race, he finally accomplished his goal and pulled into Victory Lane as a Leeroy Nelson Memorial winner this past Saturday.
“To win my grandpa’s race was probably one of the most fulfilling things I have done in my racing career so far. I have tried five times to win it and it’s always been the race that I have wanted to win,” Nelson told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
The annual memorial race is part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series points schedule. Last season Nelson collected the championship in his Modified at the track, but was once again unable to score the Leeroy Nelson Memorial win.
“We came really close a couple have times, but we had also wrecked out a couple times. I am really glad we were finally able to get this win for him.”
This race was the seventh on the 2017 schedule and Nelson has already started his season off on a high note with three wins and seven top-three finishes. When he set fast time this past weekend he knew he had a shot at finally getting the win he wanted the most at his home track.
Leroy was more than just a grandfather to driver Colton Nelson, and father to Meridian Speedway Promoter Adam Nelson. Leeroy had deep roots himself at the ¼- mile of Meridian Speedway
“My grandpa was the one who pretty much started the racing in my family,” Colton explained. “At one point he had all four of the boys, my three uncles and my dad, all the kids in one class racing against each other. To say that he was dedicated would be an understatement.”
Aside from sparking the love of racing that has since been carried through generations, Leeroy Nelson also has a history at Meridian Speedway that rightfully earned him the memorial race that his grandson won on Saturday night.
“Bill Crow, who’s my great grandpa, has been around since the beginning of Meridian Speedway and ran it for awhile. Then my grandpa Leeroy married into the Crow family. He ran the track for awhile in the 80’s after he picked up racing from my great grandfather.”
While his father, Adam, is now leaving the driving to Colton, Adam has followed in the footsteps of his father and is the current track promoter at Meridian Speedway.
Nelson had the whole family in attendance and they were the first to greet the 20-year-old driver in victory lane. And to be able to celebrate and remember his late grandfather with a win on Memorial Day was one that he won’t soon forget.
“It was definitely the most emotional and sensitive I have been up on the front shoot,” Colton stated. “My entire family was up there, all the Nelsons, Naylors, Crows and all my crew that helps me in the shop.
Emotions were high as Nelson’s win was one that his entire family had wanted for quite some time.
“Everyone was up there and my whole family was up there and they were all crying, and then we were all looking at each other and laughing because we were all crying” he said. “It was an unforgettable experience.”
While Colton has captured his fair share of wins and championships titles, it will be hard to top the win that he captured this past weekend.
“Everyone knows how awesome it is to win, but when you win racing for your grandpa’s trophy it just makes it all that much better.”
Story By: Hannah Newhouse - Southeast Correspondent- Twitter: @hannahnewhouse
Photo By: Nitrophoto