'Died doing what he loved'

Driver succumbs to heart attack after winning race

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— David O'Conor, a 73-year-old racing enthusiast, was moments removed from winning his first main event race Saturday evening at the Hayden Speedway.

He took his customary victory lap, holding the checkered flag out his window as he pulled into the pits.

He exited his sport stock truck, hands in the air, relishing his victorious moment.

His youngest daughter, Jayme Hammond was there to congratulate him.

"I did it babe. I did it," he told her.

He received congratulations from his brother, Mickey.

The two had been racing rivals since childhood and into adulthood, and Saturday wasn't any different.

David beat his little brother by half a car length.

"He started to tell me how fun of a race it was, us being neck-and-neck the whole way and all," Mickey said, "and he just dropped."

At that moment, the excitement and adrenaline proved to be too much for the Speedway's oldest competitor, as he fell from a heart attack shortly after his victory.

"My uncle (Mickey O'Conor) just started yelling for an ambulance," Hammond said. "We were just all in shock."

Paramedics arrived on the scene about 9:30 p.m., Hammond said, then transported O'Conor to The Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about an hour and a half later.

"They were giving him CPR at the hospital and the whole way there, but we made the family decision for them to stop," Hammond said. "There won't be any autopsy. We know it was a heart attack."

Mickey remembers racing with his brother at the age of 16. Bumping metal on old dirt tracks was their way of life.

Mickey said if he had a strong enough arm he could toss a stone and hit his brother's house in Maybell. He said it was only fitting for David's life to end where it did.

At the track.

"He used to always run me into the ground," Mickey said. "I finally got a good car this year and we said we wanted to run side-by-side, door-to-door. And that's what happened Saturday night. He is going to be missed very, very much.

"He was my right arm and I was his right arm."

Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion.

"My dad lived, ate and slept racing," Hammond said. "It was his passion. He was the happiest when he was behind the wheel.

"He died doing what he loved."

Comments

familyinoc 6 years, 3 months ago

I am so sorry that this man passed away. May he rest in peace. I was at the races that night & thought to myself at least he got one more win under his belt if worse comes to worse. I am glad that he was doing what he loved. Again sorry for your loss & may his spirit be with us at the track. Also would like to mention that while at the mud runs in Kremmling on Suday that a man had dedicated his runs to the loving memory of David. Also for those of you that were not at the races there are pics. available to view at wesphoto.lifepics.com

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