WPI/NTPA is saddened to report the passing on Sunday, November 14 of Leon Ashcraft, 82, of Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Mr. Ashcraft drove the "Gold Digger" Chevrolet in national and state-level Four Wheel Drive competition from 1976 to 1982 and captured both the Grand National and Region II 6,500-lb. Open championships in 1979.
Mr. Ashcraft spent 60 years working in the oil and gas industry and co-owned AP Production & Service, LLC. He also enjoyed mowing and baling hay on the farm and bow hunting. He attended Mt. Vernon Baptist Temple.
He won Fort Recovery, Ohio in his inaugural national season before tearing up the 1977 Southern winter circuit with double wins in Tifton, Georgia and Dothan, Alabama. He returned to the region each year through 1980 to score several blue ribbons in Florida, all of the above being NTPA member states.
In the summer of '77, Mr. Ashcraft reached the winner's circle in Bowling Green, Ohio for his first Grand National class victory. He added a win on that series in 1978 in Cayuga, Ontario before breaking through with six GN firsts in his title-winning 1979 campaign. In that era, the relatively new Four Wheel Drive division pulled at 5,500 and 6,500 lbs. and in both Super Stock and Open (today's Modified), and in the same year in which he doubled up at 6,500, he also claimed second in 55 SS, 55 Open, and 65 SS.
In addition to his wife Karen of 62 years, Mr. Ashcraft is survived by his children Jeri (John) Garner, Eric (Jenni), and Chris (Jen); grandchildren Ryan (Britney) McCollough, Mandi (Joel) Nash, Johnny (Stephanie) Garner, Amy (Eric) Andrews, Emily Collins, Sarah (Brandt) Webster, Abbi and Cassie Ashcraft, and Grace and Caleb Ashcraft; and 11 great-grandchildren; and sisters Patti (Stan) Zimmer and Nancy Hanger. Mr. Ashcraft's full obituary may be found here.
Visitation for Mr. Ashcraft's family and friends is scheduled for Wednesday, November 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Faith Baptist Church, 8764 Martinsburg Road, in Mt. Vernon. His funeral service will be held at the church on Thursday at 1 p.m. followed by a Celebration of Life at the church's Family Center.
Our sympathy is extended to Karen and the Ashcraft family as they mourn.