Driver Dies After Crash at Devil’s Bowl Speedway

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Veteran Devil’s Bowl Speedway driver Ron Casey, 61, died after a crash at Sunday night’s dirt track race at the West Haven track, according to management.  He leaves behind two sons, Jeremy and Ryan, a brother, and his mother.  Casey also leaves behind many friends.

“He was very loving man, a very caring man, loved to joke, loved talking about his grandkids,” says Cathy Lake of Dorset, who had been friends with Casey for about 20 years.  “He laughed at my jokes.” 

Lake met Casey at a McDonald’s in Manchester, Vermont where Casey lived.

According to Speedway Owner Mike Bruno and Media Director Justin St. Louis, Casey suffered a medical event during the race, veering off the track, and hitting a wall at about 75 miles per hour.

Paramedics were on the scene immediately, Bruno said. Casey died at Rutland Regional Medical Center, after leaving the track in an ambulance.  Bruno says he too has known Casey for decades.

“He was just a big old teddy bear, and yesterday, he was actually the first one in line,” says Bruno.

Vermont State Police are investigating what happened.

The crash happened during the popular Whistle Pig Whiskey Firecracker race touting Rutland County’s biggest fireworks display.  Speedway Owner Mike Bruno said thousands of spectators were there.  Cathy Lake had prior commitments and was not able to attend.

“I have mixed feeling about it because I’m glad I didn’t go, but I also regret it because I would’ve saw him last,” said Lake. 

A similar tragedy happened last September when veteran racer Leon Gonyo died just after a race at Devil’s Bowl. He suffered a stroke while taking a victory lap.

“I can’t say it’s any easier, but I know we were better prepared this time,” said Bruno.  “The safety crew was there immediately, he was still with us, so everyone got the roof off, got him out of the car, and he was in an ambulance within 20 to 30 seconds.”

Casey’s wife died of cancer two years ago.  Lake and Bruno say they’re happy he died doing what he loved.

Devil’s Bowl Speedway management sent this statement Monday:

Devil’s Bowl Speedway management is saddened to confirm the loss of one of its stock car racing family members, driver Ron Casey.
Mr. Casey, 61, of Manchester Center, Vt., was competing in a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Sportsman Modified race on the 3/10-mile Dirt Track at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven, Vt., on the evening of Sunday, July 3, 2016 when he was stricken with what appeared to be a medical emergency that led to a crash.
With nine of 35 laps complete at approximately 9:15 p.m., Mr. Casey’s racecar suddenly veered off course through the infield at a high rate of speed and traveled through the infield grass before making a hard impact with a retaining wall in Turn 2 and coming to rest.  No other people or vehicles were involved in the incident.
Mr. Casey was quickly and carefully tended to by track safety workers and the Fair Haven Rescue medical team who were on site and at the scene within 60 seconds.  He was extricated from the car and transported by ambulance to Rutland Regional Medical Center in Rutland, Vt., where he was officially pronounced deceased at 12:12 a.m. on Monday, July 4.
Mr. Casey used proper safety equipment including an approved helmet, head-and-neck restraint system, aluminum racing seat, and certified restraining belts, all of which were in good condition and met current safety specifications.  The car was inspected following the crash and was deemed to be mechanically and structurally fit for competition.  Mr. Casey’s official cause of death has not yet been determined, though it is believed to have been due to a medical problem just prior to the accident.
Ron Casey was the epitome of the old-school, hard-working Vermonter, and was an impeccable ambassador for grassroots auto racing.  His warm, friendly demeanor was a welcome addition to every track at which he competed during his long career.  Racing on a shoestring budget, his priority was fun over success and his passion, enthusiasm, and dedication for the sport were obvious.  Mr. Casey was the first driver to register to compete when dirt track racing returned to Devil’s Bowl Speedway in September 2014, he was the first driver to arrive at the track’s official car show in Downtown Rutland on a rainy 35-degree morning in May 2016, and he was the first driver in line to enter the pit area on the night that he passed away – just as he was at virtually every race.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway thanks Fair Haven Rescue and the Devil’s Bowl Speedway Safety Team for their swift care and professionalism.  Devil’s Bowl Speedway also thanks its passionate, dedicated, and caring fan base for its outpouring of support following the incident, and requests that the same continues to be extended to Ron Casey’s family members and many friends and supporters.
Race in peace, Ron Casey.  You were a true gentleman and much-loved member of the local auto racing family who will be greatly missed.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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