The annual Historic Festival at Lime Rock Park made history this year after a driver flipped his car during a race.
Lee Duran, 73, succumbed to his injuries from the crash on Saturday.
The death is the first of its kind at the Historic Festival, which hasn’t seen even a serious injury in its 32 years.
On Monday, Duran’s competitors, part of Group 2, honored him with a tribute lap during their first race.
They drove in what’s called a missing-man formation, a salute usually done in the air by members of the U.S. Air Forces. They carved out a spot for Duran in the Pole Position.
“It wasn't much, but it was pretty much all you can do. It's tough,” said Paul Fitzgerald, a driver who participated in the tribute.
Roger Morse, who raced with Duran, said the Connecticut man had competed for years.
“Very experienced. Very good racer. I have to think that something must've broken on his car.”
Lime Rock Park officials don’t believe the track is to blame. They continued the five-day festival after an hour and a half delay.
“It's not callous. It's more like, this is what racing is, and rarely, but sometimes, the worst happens and one of the better ways to honor that mindset is to keep racing,” said Rick Roso, press officer for Lime Rock Park.
Morse, Fitzgerald and other Group 2 racers took that tribute to another level with the dedication of Monday’s first lap to Duran.
“It was very tough going back out there and around where the accident happened. I was ahead of him, but it's tough,” said Fitzgerald.
They’re feeling Duran’s loss off the track, too.
“Just before we went out on the race lap, he had helped me get the oil pan back in my wife's car, so she could get back on the track also. He was just that kind of guy. He was always there to help out,” said Morse. “We'll miss him. I mean it was so sudden. I mean, one minute he's there, the next minute he's gone and I can't imagine what it's going to be like for his wife.”
State police are still figuring out what caused the crash. They describe it as an untimely death investigation.