Engine builder Sonny Leonard is used to his phone ringing off the hook, whether it’s from customers, potential customers or friends just ringing him up to chat.
Monday morning brought a different style of phone calls to his Lynchburg, Va.-based engine shop.
Leonard, who owns and operates Sonny’s Racing Engines, said the shop has been getting calls of condolences on his passing. The problem is Leonard is very much alive.
“The first call when I got in the office was telling me he thought I had passed,” Leonard said, admitting the caller’s statement caught him off guard.
Assuring the caller that he was okay, the phone continued ringing for the same reason.
Shortly after the barrage, it was then Leonard learned that a longtime friend also named Sonny had apparently passed away on Sunday. Multiple social media posts by various prominent racing entities have stated crankshaft specialist Sonny Bryant has passed away. No official statement has been made regarding his passing.
What initially started as a case of mistaken identity has left Leonard saddened because of his longtime working relationship with Bryant.
“Sonny and I go back to the 1980s when I used to buy crankshafts from him for Mountain Motor Pro Stock engines we used to build for Rickie Smith,” Leonard said. “I used to visit him over the years, and we’d stay together. He was a very smart guy, and I truly loved him like a brother.
Leonard said he received a call today from Bryant’s family confirming the passing of his friend.
CompetitionPlus.com offers our deepest condences to the Bryant Family, and will post a celebration of his storied career and life in the near future.
We our deeply saddened by the passing of crankshaft guru Sonny Bryant. Sonny built the finest cranks in all of motorsports, from NHRA, All 3 NASCAR series, IMSA, Indycar, World of Outlaws, Dragboats, and many many… https://t.co/ATu7O8ybDS
— Brad Anderson Ent. (@BradAndersonEnt) August 10, 2020