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, died Tuesday after being stabbed at a gas station in Westminster, Calif. He was 37.
According to the Westminster Police Department, East was at a gas station when he was stabbed in the chest. Police officers attempted life saving measures until paramedics arrived and transported him to a local trauma center, where he succumbed to his injuries. Trent William Millsap, 27, was named by police as a suspect in the attack. Millsap, who fled the area before police arrived, was described by WPD as a known transient who has an outstanding parole warrant. He remains at large and is considered armed and dangerous. A motive for the attack remains unknown.
East, a native of Torrance, Calif., who made his home throughout his racing career in Brownsburg, Ind., captured 56 career USAC-sanctioned feature victories, 48 of them in national divisions. He took three USAC national driving titles, starting in 2004 with the USAC National Midgets and twice more with back-to-back USAC Silver Crown championships in 2012 and 2013.
The son of USAC Hall of Fame car builder Bob East, Bobby was an immediate success in his USAC career. His first career triumph with the USAC National Midgets in 2001 at Schererville, Indiana’s Illiana Motor Speedway made Bobby the youngest USAC national feature winner ever at the time, at the age of 16. His three winning performances in 2001 made him the winningest USAC National Midget Rookie in more than a quarter century. Ultimately, he was rewarded as the series’ Rookie of the Year.
In his career, East totaled 22 USAC National Midget feature wins, the majority of which came for the series’ winningest team owner, Steve Lewis, and his legendary “Nine Cars.”
The peak of East’s USAC Silver Crown career came when he teamed up with Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing and delivered consecutive series championships in 2012 and 2013. His score in the 2012 Sumar Classic Terre Haute finale was historic as it put him on the exclusively short list of nine drivers in USAC history who’ve won on dirt and pavement tracks in all three national divisions: Silver Crown, National Sprint Car and National Midget.
The last of East’s 48 USAC National victories came in the Silver Crown series in 2013 at Colorado’s Pikes Peak International Raceway. He made his final USAC start of any sort in the 2014 Silver Crown season finale where he led a race-high 54 laps and finished third at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.