"My first memory is of sitting on a blanket at Nelson Ledges, watching my dad race," remembers Butch Leitzinger. "I was three years old at the time. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to race cars."
Butch's dad, Bob Leitzinger, did not really want his son to be a racer. He did not put his foot down and say no, but he encouraged Butch to explore more "normal" sports - baseball, football, soccer, etc. But when Butch turned sixteen, he started racing in a local Pennsylvania off road series. In the spirit of if you can't fight them, join them, his father and brother raced with him on the weekends, with the three of them taking home the trophies more often than not.
Twenty years later, Butch has won the 24 Hours of Daytona three times, the World Sportscar championship twice and both the CanAm championship and IMSA GTU championships. He has won in Trans Am, finished on the podium at The 24 Hours of Le Mans, has three wins in NASCAR's Busch North Series and a podium finish in the Watkins Glen NASCAR Busch race. Butch was third in the 2005 Rolex Series championship with two wins and three seconds. Recipient of many awards over the years including On Track magazine's choice of him as their sports car racer of the decade.
Butch finished fifth in the ALMS LMP2 championship in 2008, never finishing out of the points in the eleven-race season, including a second at Sebring and another podium at Road America and three top fives. He was third in the LMP2 championship in 2007 with three podiums and also finished third in the ALMS LMP1 championship in 2006 with three podiums and the pole at Portland. He has fifty-nine top fives in the last ten years in the ALMS along with thirty-two victories with Dyson Racing in fourteen years, including two in 2005 at Mid-Ohio and Mosport. The Mid-Ohio win was part of the first one-two for Dyson Racing in the ALMS. "Rob Dyson is great to drive for," comments Butch. "He is a racer: he understands the commitment the drivers put into the effort, and he always gives you all the tools you need to win. Plus he is an interesting, and intelligent person - I have yet to find a subject that he is not conversant on.
"When I first started racing, I had open wheel aspirations. That was the direction expected for up and coming racers. I looked into it, but without the ability to bring money to the table, it is tough to break into. But I am very glad that I am in sports car racing. I enjoy the team mentality, with two or three drivers in a car, working together: that is my kind of racing. I get up in the morning and can't wait to get to the track."
Butch has not strayed from his Pennsylvania roots. He, his wife, and young daughter live in an 1840's farm house in Amish country. They grow twenty five different kinds of vegetables and herbs and are pretty much self sustaining through the summer. "It is very relaxing to come home from a race weekend and see a team of horses plowing a field." Surrounding himself with both kinds of horsepower, Butch is a driver who has achieved an agreeably balanced life.