WEST HAVEN, Vt. – Leon Gonyo, 63, of Chazy, N.Y., won Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s final asphalt NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified race of the season on Saturday evening but succumbed soon after.
Gonyo appeared to suffer a medical event while driving his race car around the speedway during a ceremonial victory lap. His car then made an impact into the frontstretch retaining wall before approaching the victory lane area.
Gonyo utilized proper safety equipment including an approved helmet, seat, and restraining belts. The car was inspected following the incident and was deemed to be mechanically and structurally sound.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway official Dick Therrien sustained minor injuries when the car struck a ladder that he was standing on, but is recovering at home after being evaluated at Rutland Regional Medical Center.
Gonyo was a true gentleman of the sport and enjoyed a racing career with more than 40 years of success at many race tracks in the northeastern United States and Canada. His talents seemed to only improve with age, proven by his final victory on Saturday night – his fifth win of the season at Devil’s Bowl Speedway and his seventh in 2015.
Gonyo was a very well-respected and highly regarded member of the local stock car racing community, and was presented with Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s highest honor for 2013, the John Bruno Award, which is given annually to someone who has made a significant contribution to short track racing during their lifetime while maintaining high standards of conduct and respect on and off the track.