Nfld. & Labrador

Autistic boy, 10, burning up the drag-racing circuit

Darien Legge, a 10 year old from Kelligrews, is about to race into the history books.

Darien Legge set to become first Newfoundlander to compete at international championship next week

10-year-old Darien Legge, who's set to race internationally at the Summit Super Series Championships. (Submitted by Susan Legge)

Darien Legge, a 10 year old from Kelligrews, is about to race into the history books.

Legge, who was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, will become the first Newfoundlander to compete in the Summit Super Series Championships, an international drag racing competition taking place in Tennessee next week.

Legge will compete at the Memphis International Speedway, in the junior dragster category — a miniature version of dragster racing where cars race in a straight line rather than an oval track.

But don't think that those miniature cars can't reach impressive speeds. Legge told The St.John's Morning Show he's hit upwards of 100 km/hr. 

Legge thrives on that speed — and the competition.

"What I like most about racing is that you get to race other people," Legge told CBC host Anthony Germain.

The need for speed

Legge caught the racing bug at an early age, watching his father compete.

Darien has been racing for a couple of years. (Submitted by Susan Legge)

"He's always really had a fascination with motorsports," said his mother, Susan Legge.

For his 8th birthday, his parents surprised him with his very own junior dragster car, and soon he was speeding around, solo.

"I was a little bit concerned at first, when he took the car on the track," said Susan Legge.

"But just the aerodynamics of the car, and the safety of the car, and the way that the drag racing community is anyway, in terms of safety, is they would not allow him or children like him to run if it wasn't completely safe."

This past Labour Day weekend, Darien Legge raced at Eastbound Speedway in Avondale, qualifying for a spot in a wildcard draw for the Summit Super Series Championships.

He got the call a few days later that he was in. Since then, it's been a scramble to get ready for an 8,800-kilometre round trip to Tennessee.

"It's not like going to a hockey tournament, where you can put your hockey bag on a plane and fly there, of course. We got to tow his car," said Susan Legge, who credits fundraising efforts and the donation of a motor home for making the trip possible.

'Autism Fuels My Drive'

Darien Legge's dragster will sport a specialized paint job at the Memphis International Speedway.

The new paint job on Darien Legge's junior dragster. (Submitted by Susan Legge)

His car has been re-done with his favourite mascot - a crow - and multicoloured puzzle pieces, a symbol for autism.

"They [made] the car look, like, awesome, " said Legge.

On the top of the car is the slogan: 'Autism fuels my drive'.

"The reason we had that put on the top of his car, is because one thing that we've learned about autism, and especially children that have autism or are on the spectrum, usually they have something that like, that they really focus on, that's their niche and they're really good at,  and we feel that racing is that for Darien," said Susan Legge.


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