Blake Leeper (middle) competes at the 2012 Paralympics in London. (AP Photo)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The American Blade Runner and The Great American Race will come face to face next month.
Paralympic athlete Blake Leeper will serve as honorary race official for the 56th annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 23 at Daytona International Speedway.
As honorary race official, the Kingsport native will be introduced at the driver’s meeting, participate in pre-race ceremonies and ride in one of the honorary race official vehicles ahead of the 43-car field for the 200-lap, 500-mile prestigious event.
“Blake Leeper is a true inspiration and a legend in the making,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “We are honored to have him participate in the pre-race ceremonies at the ‘World Center of Racing’ for the thrilling and historic Daytona 500.”
In 2008 Leeper started intensively running after the Challenged Athlete Foundation presented him with a grant for state of the art blade prosthetics. He won the silver medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games and the gold medal in the 400-meter relay at the IPC Worlds in Lyon, France.
Leeper is currently training for the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he would become the first double-amputee American to compete in the Olympic Games.