Stock Car Driver Dies After Suffering 'Medical Event' During Victory Lap

Image: Leon Gonyo
Stock car driver Leon Gonyo posing with a trophy in 2012.Paul Kipphut / Devil's Bowl Speedway

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By James Eng

A veteran stock car driver died after suffering a medical emergency during a victory lap at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven, Vermont, track officials said.

Leon Gonyo, 63, of Chazy, New York, won the speedway’s final asphalt NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified race of the season on Saturday night — but never got to collect the checkered flag.

"Mr. Gonyo appeared to suffer a medical event while driving his race car around the speedway during a ceremonial victory lap," the track said in a statement. "His car then made an impact into the front-stretch retaining wall before approaching the victory lane area."

Stock car driver Leon Gonyo posing with a trophy in 2012.Paul Kipphut / Devil's Bowl Speedway

Gonyo was unresponsive as he was taken by ambulance to Rutland Regional Medical Center and never regained consciousness, Justin St. Louis, a spokesman for Devil's Bowl Speedway, told NBC News on Monday.

The cause of death has not been determined. St. Louis said most of Gonyo’s symptoms suggested that he suffered a stroke.

Devil’s Bowl Speedway official Dick Therrien sustained minor injuries when Gonyo’s car struck a ladder that he was standing on, track officials said. He was evaluated at a hospital and released.

Gonyo’s car was inspected after the incident and no mechanical or structural defects were found, the track said.