WEST HAVEN-After months of hard work, Devil's Bowl Speedway has been transformed from a dirt race track to a modern paved speedway. The venerable track has been an institution in western Vermont since 1967 and will be opening its 44th season of racing on May 23 on a brand new asphalt surface provided by Wilks Paving of West Rutland.
"Working with a local company like Wilks is the way I like to do business," said track promoter Jerry Richards. "Chris Wilks has been with me every step of the way and I couldn't be happier with the final product. We worked together using input from Mike Perrotte (promoter of Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh) and Tom Curley (promotor of Thunder Road in Barre) to design the progressive banking in order to turn this clay track into a paved surface that would provide the same level of excitement and competitive racing that we're used to."
Jerry and brother Bruce Richards (promoter at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y.), along with sister Sharon Richards, are partners of both race tracks and owners since 2005. In the past, Jerry managed the facilities while Bruce handled the promotional responsibilities. This year Bruce will take on all aspects of management at Albany-Saratoga and Jerry will do the same at Devil's Bowl. Jerry noted "Bruce lives in New York and I live in Vermont. It just made good business sense. It would have been a big enough learning curve for both of us without the decision to go to pavement, but we've been through a lot together and he's learning from me at the same time I'm learning from him. As far as the asphalt goes, we're learning together. Perrotte and Curley have been instrumental in helping Jerry Richards to make the transition to pavement racing.
Having the advice of the other nearby pavement promoters has been invaluable. Richards noted, "In working together, we hope to maintain and even strengthen local short track racing. It's a tough business, seasonal and dependent on weather and you have to have a certain amount of backbone to be in it year after year. Having grown up with it, it's in our blood and none of us can really imagine doing anything else, so this is a big gamble for us, but one we feel will really pay off going forward."
The season opener is scheduled for Sunday, May 23, and will feature the Thunder Road late models in a 100 lap race to christen the new pavement. Devil's Bowl has also been fortunate to have some very important partners sign on to support local racing in 2010. Coca-Cola Products has been instrumental in helping with schedule distribution, and will provide all beverages this year at the speedway. The May 30 Tri-Track Series Modified Race is presented by Chittenden Bank. LaValley's Building Supply is holding their Employee's Night at the Races on June 6, and Ace Carting Corp. of Fort Ann is sponsoring the traditional Fourth of July show, in addition to bringing two race teams all season. Heritage Family Credit Union sponsors the Renegade Roundup on Aug. 15 and will continue the tradition of saying thank you to their customers by admitting all HFCU members into the grandstand for free that night. Brown's Quarried Slate has returned as a sponsor, and CRM Specialties of Orwell has come on board for the first time.
The first two events on May 23 and May 30 are $15 adult tickets, while adult admission for regular shows remains only $10, and this year all children 12 and under will be admitted free. Racing will begin an hour earlier with a 6 p.m. start time. Up-to-date information and the complete racing schedule can be found on the internet at devilsbowlspeedwayvt.com and the speedway telephone is 802-265-3112.