It’s been a long road for Terry Leggett in recent years. His daughter had Leukemia; last year he was diagnosed with eye and thyroid cancer; then in February, his appendix ruptured. Despite compiling health issues, he’s remained a threat on the PDRA Pro Extreme circuit and somehow maintained his positive attitude through the ups and downs.
He missed the PDRA season opener this year this year due to the ruptured appendix. “That was a long ordeal. All kinds of mess. Everything is unexpected, it seems like, other than getting old,” laughed the North Carolina logger. “And that part is good, too. I’m glad I’m getting older.
Terry Leggett has been a regular on the Pro Mod scene for decades, although he has taken time off at periods in order to focus on his Leggett Logging business.
“Right now everything looks pretty good,” Leggett said of his cancer battle. “There’s still fluid in my eye they’re trying to manage, to get rid of. They’re working on that. All my scans came back good a couple weeks ago, so everything’s good.”
After more than two weeks in the hospital in February of this year, Leggett recovered from the ruptured appendix and came back out to tackle his late-season start. The Leggett Logging/Flying A Motorsports Team didn’t skip a beat. He went to the final at GALOT Motorsports Park, qualifying number one in the process. He qualified number one and went to the final again in Maryland. So despite missing one of the five races contested thus far, Leggett is still fourth in points.
The ’71 Mustang Leggett pilots in Pro Extreme is reminiscent of his very first car, also a ’71 red and black Mustang. “I always thought they made really good race cars and judging by how good this one has done, I’d say that was right,” Leggett said of the car.
If I don’t change my mind, this will be the last year I run Pro Extreme. I’ll either completely quit or possibly run Pro Stock.
“We got a good group of folks that help us every weekend,” Leggett shared. “That’s why we can run fast. The car’s just been really, really good. You just really need to have some good luck on your side, too. I’m lucky just to be there, but I need a little more of that at the race track. But yeah, we’ve been number one qualifier two out of the four we’ve been to. Should’ve been three out of the four. Everybody else tested all day Thursday [at Indy]. We couldn’t test because some of our folks had people in the hospital. First run we were number one qualifier. We looked pretty good to go some more rounds and the dag-on transmission breaks in the second round.”
Despite a good season and health problems being largely behind him, Leggett confessed this may very well be his last year in Pro Extreme, possibly his last year racing at all.
Although Leggett confided he might call it quits after this season, he also says that racing and his friends met through racing are a large part of what got him through his health struggles.
“If I don’t change my mind, this will be the last year I run Pro Extreme. I’ll either completely quit or possibly run Pro Stock. The cost of it’s overwhelmed the fun. I’m not sure which is the most prevalent problem, but between the two of ’em it’s about got me done. And I love [the class]. The reason I can’t go run Pro Boost or something like that or NHRA legal stuff is once you’ve been really fast, you don’t want slow down. If I’m gonna’ go slow, I’d rather do it in something different.
“I’ve always loved Pro Stock. That’s the one thing I think I would like to do again, if I was going to change and do something different,” Leggett continued. He competed in IHRA Pro Stock for a stint in the mid ’90s. “Pro Stock is having some good number of cars at the races and some good races. PDRA wants them there, so that’s a good thing. It’s one thing I think I could do and be happy doing. You can do it with less people for the most part and I think the cost would be less.
Leggett made it to the second round at PDRA’s Indianapolis event after qualifying third in the 15 car field. After the first 5 events, he was fourth in points, despite missing the season opener.
“We run a two hundred and fifty dollar belt two runs and throw it away. I put a set of rods in the motor every time we go to the race track. And all that is just if you don’t have something crazy happen. Eleven, twelve hundred dollar set of rods. You make eight runs, that’s four belts, so that’s a thousand dollars in belts. Plugs every run. The cost is just unreal [in Pro Extreme]. And I guess they could do something to slow ’em down, but I don’t think it’d ever be the same.”
I really don’t have a real good idea or scenario to tell you the honest truth. To do what we’re doing is just extremely expensive.
It’s no secret that the class has fallen in support. The PDRA has been toying with ideas to bring life back to the class, but for Leggett, he’s pretty sure his Pro Extreme days are coming to an end.
“I really don’t have a real good idea or scenario to tell you the honest truth. To do what we’re doing is just extremely expensive. It’s kinda’ like an old guy told me a long time ago. He said, ‘After a while, you just got to figure out how much fun is it.’ I still really enjoy it, still really want to do it. But boy, there just isn’t no money at the end. Two thousand dollars to runner up. You’d be better off to run a one night thing at a little ol’ local race track and win four or five thousand dollars and twenty-five hundred to runner up and that’s what a lot of ’em are. I have no plan at all to go to Tulsa. I might wind up going, but right now I’m planning not to go. And I hate it, in a way, because I’m fourth in the points. That’s a real good thing in one way, but then again, if I’m fourth or sixth, it won’t make two hundred dollars difference at the end of the year.
Leggett does between round maintenance and works together with tuner, Terry Coyle, to have the Mustang run competitive 3.50 numbers.
“It’s 22 hours from here to Tulsa. You’re talking about three or four thousand dollars in diesel fuel. And it’s not all about the money. We all know it’s not about that, but you have to put a little common sense to it. Going to Tulsa would be twelve to fifteen thousand dollars with a possibility to win six or seven. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s whatever, but it is what it is.”
Leggett won’t say for certain what the future holds. He’s not making any rash decisions. No matter what happens with his own racing operation, however, he’s certain to stay involved with his grandson, Jacksen, who races Junior Dragster. It’s clear that family is of utmost importance to Leggett. He keeps a picture his grandson drew years ago front and center on the dashboard of his ‘71 Mustang. “I figured that was the place to keep it, right there,” Leggett smiled.
Along with Leggett Logging, Flying A Motorsports and Bryant Industrial Crane and Rigging back Leggett’s operation.
“I can’t let him go with nobody else,” he continued, referring to Jacksen’s racing. “We’ve got a little granddaughter I think’s gonna’ be wide open. She’s liable to want to do it, too.”
Leggett has been around Pro Mod since its beginning. He’s seen it through many phases and seen it grow beyond what he ever thought possible. From the humble beginnings of Pro Mod, he’s reached the height of the class, fundamentally finding himself between a rock and a hard place in the sport. Regularly running 3.50s and well over 200 miles per hour makes any other class seem slow, and yet there’s nowhere else to run his Pro Extreme Mustang. “For my type of car, [PDRA] is the only home there is,” he ponted out.
Leggett’s easy-going personality is indicative in his southern drawl. Despite recent health concerns and even contemplating the end of his racing career, Leggett remains positive and keeps focus on what’s most important to him.
Leggett’s decision to pull back from Pro Extreme is not a reflection of his thoughts on the PDRA. He still hopes to see the series do well and continue to grow. However, between the expense, late nights and time away from work, he confesses the fun no longer outweighs the cost.
From the days of his first race car, a ‘56 Thunderbird, to his Pro Stock Thunderbird and Mustang, to his current state-of-the-art Charlie Buck-powered ‘71 Mustang, it’s been a worthwhile journey. There is a very small few who have had as long of a career in the sport. Regardless of whether he shows up in 2018 in Pro Extreme, Pro Stock, or as a Junior Dragster crew chief, Terry Leggett always brings a positivity and respect to the sport that will be welcomed wherever he chooses to be.