WEST HAVEN-If politics makes strange bedfellows, according to 19th-century essayist Charles Dudley Warner, what bedfellows does politics and auto racing make for? Well, how about average voters, that is, folks like you and me. At least that's how State Sen. Phil Scott sees it.
Politician and race-car driver Scott of Middlesex clearly knows that auto racing makes for lots of thrills-probably a few more thrills than debating some ho-hum bill under Montpelier's golden-dome. And being a long-time driver, Scott knows that a race track is an ideal place to meet those real Vermonters-the down-to-earth folks who vote in every election; the same folks who bear the burden of paying high property taxes while keeping the state's economy afloat with their "buy local" purchasing power.
With Scott running now for the Vermont lieutenant governor's seat, what better place to kick off a statewide campaign than at Devil's Bowl, one of the state's premiere auto tracks. So, three-time Thunder Road champion Scott decided to toss his cap in the West Haven oval last weekend for an exciting afternoon of racing.
The 2010 campaign being Scott's first statewide political effort, he wanted to time his campaign kick-off with Devil's Bowl opening day.
When the American Canadian Tour announced that the Late Model division from Thunder Road would be opening the new asphalt topped Devil's Bowl Speedway last week, Scott was the first to vote "yes".
An avid Vermont outdoorsman and one of the most successful stock car racers in the state's history, Scott tried the first-ever ACT 100 lap feature event at the newly paved oval that serves fans from west of the Green Mountains, particularly Rutland County.
"I certainly was happy when I learned that we were opening the Thunder Road season at the new Devil's Bowl," Scott told the news media before the race. "I remember the history of the old days when the five track series included the Rutland track.
"My focus was to try and win the race, but shaking a few hands and getting to know some folks in the Rutland-Addison area was be a great opportunity for me," he said after the race.
Over 25 ACT race teams christened the new asphalt at the opening event.
As it turned out, Scott, Nick Sweet, Mike Bailey, Tony Andrews, and rookie Chris Riendeau were in the top ten of the 100-lap event. Montpelier's Dave Pembroke took the win. He jockyed with Rutland's Mike Bruno for the majority of the race.