The Leisingers are back.
You may remember Karen and Dave Leisinger from an earlier feature story on their 1970 Chevy Camaro autocross car, the “Crusher.”
Well, their sons Josh and Jared Leisinger have their own cars too: a pair of 1964 Corvettes, no less.
Never heard of autocross?
It’s a form of motorsports where the driver navigates a closed course marked off with traffic cones as quickly as possible, with penalties assessed for hitting cones. It’s a test of both driver skill and vehicle performance.
Back in 2007 Dave and Karen witnessed their first autocross competition at a local Goodguys show. “I was hooked,” explains Dave. “I’m not the type of guy that likes to sit around, so autocross racing is a perfect fit for me and my family.”
The Leisingers soon recruited their sons Jared and Josh to join them at the track on weekends. Together, they’ve traveled thousands of miles to compete, including a 22-hour trek from their home in South Dakota to Scottsdale, Arizona.
Over the years, the Leisinger stable has included a number of vehicles, including 1967 and 1970 Chevy C-10 pickups, a couple of 1967 Camaros, and a 1971 Camaro.
But it was “Crusher,” the 1970 Camaro they purpose-built exclusively for autocross, that really set the standard for the team.
The three vehicles driven by Karen, Jared, and Josh may look quite different, but beneath the fiberglass bodies, they are almost identical. Each has a chromoly tube frame chassis, custom-built shocks, and Wilwood rotors and calipers.
The three cars also have common powerplants: 450 cubic inch LSX engines built by “The Professor” Warren and Kurt Johnson. These engines are loaded with cutting-edge technology, like FAST intakes, Holley Dominator ECUs, Magnafuel fuel systems, and custom stainless steel headers.
The cockpit of each car is made specifically for its driver, with custom-built aluminum panels loaded with Dakota Digital gauges and controls, and Kirkey race seats. Karen says, “One of our favorite things is the excitement children have when we let them sit in the cars and get their pictures taken.”
When asked about his most memorable autocross experience so far, Josh says, “For me it was our first time at LS Fest in 2014. It just felt like we had worked so hard that weekend, thrashing on the car, drenched in sweat, covered in rubber and brake dust, really pouring everything we had into that race. To come out on top with some really tough competition, in that moment in time it was the best race I have ever competed in.”
Josh thinks his best accomplishments are still ahead of him. “I‘ve had some great wins, some really memorable moments, also some really trying, really hard moments racing over the years. I’ve learned from all of it, and I think it’s building to something really great that maybe I will be able to pass on to my daughter. That would be a great accomplishment I think, to be able to pass on all my knowledge in the seat to my child and watch her succeed even more than I have.”
All three cars received upgraded powerplants in 2021. At the same time, Karen moved from the Goodguys Pro-X class to the Pro class. “I love competing against my sons,” she says, “but I’d rather bring home two first-place trophies!”
- Custom chromoly tube chassis
- Magnesium Corvette C6 cradles
- Custom tubular A-arms
- Custom-built shocks
- Wilwood 14″ rotors and calipers
Wheels & Tires
- Forgeline GS1R wheels
- Kumho ECSTA V720 ACR tires (P355/30ZR19)
Engine & Induction
- 450 cubic inch LSX engines (built by Warren and Kurt Johnson)
- Dart SHP LS Next blocks
- Custom Wilson intakes
- Dart Race Series pro stock cylinder heads
- Holley Dominator ECUs
- Holley throttle bodies
- Magnafuel fuel pumps
- Custom 2-1/4″ stainless steel headers
- Gearstar Level 5 2-speed transmissions
- Gear Vendor supplemental gearboxes