A former NASCAR driver and US motorsport star has been died following a horrific attack at a petrol station, leaving the nation stunned.
Three-time USAC national champion Bobby East has died aged 37 after being fatally stabbed in California on Wednesday.
Police identified Trent William Millsap, 27, as a suspect in the stock car racing driver’s death.
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Millsap was shot dead on Friday in a SWAT raid on an Anaheim-area apartment, sources told TMZ.
East suffered a stab wound in the chest at a 76 gas station in Westminster at 5:51pm.
A statement from Westminster Police Department (WOPD) said: “The victim was found on the ground suffering from a serious stab wound to the chest area.
“Officers attempted life saving measures until OCFA paramedics arrived and transported the victim to a local trauma centre, where the victim succumbed to his injury.”
WPD detectives responded to the scene and took over the investigation.
WPD said: “Trent William Millsap, who fled the area prior to police arrival, is suspected of stabbing the victim.”
Law enforcement sources told TMZ that police tracked down Millsap to an Annaheim apartment on Friday, two days after East was fatally stabbed.
They carried out a search warrant, and Millsap was reportedly shot while he was being arrested.
The Orange County District Attorney is investigating the officer-involved shooting.
Before the suspect’s death was announced, police said: “Millsap has an outstanding parole warrant. He should be considered armed and dangerous. Millsap is transient and known to frequent Westminster, Garden Grove, and Anaheim motels.”
East raced in 42 NASCAR national touring series races between 2005 and 2008.
The US Auto Club (USAC) shared a statement yesterday about the driver’s passing.
“Bobby East, one of the most prolific drivers of his era and a three-time USAC National Champion driver in USAC Silver Crown and Midgets, passed away on the night of July 13, 2022, in southern California.”
“Born in Torrance, California but making his home throughout his racing career in Brownsburg, Indiana, East captured 56 career USAC-sanctioned feature victories, 48 of them in national divisions.”
The son of Janice and famed USAC Hall of Fame car builder Bob East, Robert East was an immediate success in his USAC career, the organisation said.
Bobby started his racing career at the age of nine in quarter midgets.
He then moved on to Kenyon cars, in which he claimed 12 feature wins, after five seasons in quarter midgets.
In 2001, he moved up to USAC’s National Midget Series and enjoyed an admirably successful year.
East became the youngest driver to win a national feature race – the Illiana Motor Speedway in Indiana – at 16.
He followed this triumph by claiming three USAC National wins, two USAC Regional wins, and earned the USAC National Midget Series Rookie of the Year award.
After winning more than 20 national USAC events, East made his debut in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2005 at Memphis Motorsports Park, finishing 17th.
His last race was in 2007, when he raced a Food 300 at the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Homestead-Miami.
The gifted sportsman, who lived in Brownsburg, Indiana, was part of Ford’s driver development program while he raced in ARCA, and NASCAR.
Tributes poured on social media following the announcement of East’s passing.
“Please keep the East family in your thoughts,” Speed Sport wrote on Twitter.
Communications Manager at ARCA, Charles Krall said: “I have the best memories of working with Bobby East.
“In an open wheel car, there was no one better. So sorry to hear the news today.
“My love and thoughts are with his parents Bob and Janice, and the entire East family. Race in peace Bobby.”
This story first appeared in The Sun and was republished with permission.