Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s Ready For $3,000-To-Win Season Opener This Saturday Night
Story By: DEVIL’S BOWL SPEEDWAY – WEST HAVEN, VT – Stock car racing season has arrived in Vermont, and West Haven’s Devil’s Bowl Speedway will be the first track in the Green Mountain State to swing its gates open on Saturday, April 29 at 6:00 p.m.
The track’s 57th annual lid-lifter offers a jam-packed, six-division program of dirt track action, and the headline Sportsman Modified class will get the year started with a bang with a 30-lap “draw” handicap feature paying a cool $3,000 to win.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway has established itself as “The Great Crate Place” as the Northeast’s top track for Sportsman-type Modified cars. Three divisions compete with the competitive and economical General Motors “602 crate” engine program, and as such, the Sportsman Modified, Limited Sportsman, and Novice Sportsman divisions combined to average nearly 70 cars in 2022; all indications point to similar numbers in 2023.
A stout mix of established stars and promising young up-and-comers is expected for Saturday night’s opene. The Sportsman Modified title fight is wide open as reigning champion Todd Stone has scaled back his own driving to focus on the budding career of his son, Justin. That leaves Middlebury, Vt., native Justin Comes – who is now a Devil’s Bowl hometown hero living in nearby Fair Haven – in the catbird seat; the 30-year-old former Mini Stock champ finished second in Sportsman Modified point standings in each of the last two years and is eyeing his first crown.
Chasing Comes will be former Devil’s Bowl champions Tim LaDuc, Vince Quenneville, and Frank Hoard III, along with veteran favorites Jimmy Ryan, Billy Lussier, Brian Whittemore, Kevin Chaffee, James Hanson, Wayne Stearns, and the Canaan, N.H., trio of Allan Hammond, Walt Hammond Jr., and Walter J. Hammond. The new generation of stars is represented by Tanner Siemons, Marty Kelly III, Anthony Warren, Brent Warren, Troy Audet, Adam Piper, and Austin Comes, with exciting newcomers Evan Roberts, Josh LeClaire, and Kyle Huntington running for Rookie of the Year honors.
The Limited Sportsman division is also anyone’s to win with champion Roberts jumping up. Last year’s runner-up, Randy Ryan, of Orwell, Vt., leads the charge as one of the more experienced drivers in the intermediate-level class, along with familiar names John Gosselin, Bob Kilburn, Steve Miller, Anthony Ryan, and former Pro Stock champion Freddie Little. Tough young guns include Katrina Bean, Jason Quenneville, A.J. Munger, Alex Layn, Gary English, Timmy Aldrighetti, and Justin Lilly, and Novice Sportsman graduates Daryl Gebo, Kamden Duffy, and William Lussier Jr. – a talented trio that combined to win 11 races last summer.
The Novice Sportsman class – a new addition last year – will race for weekly points and a track championship for the first time in 2023. The development ground for aspiring Modified racers is nearly overflowing with pre-season registrations; feature winners from 2022 who are returning include Josh Bussino, Robert Gauthier, Adam LaFountain, Tyler Travis, and Randy Edson, while other entries include former Super Stock and Mini Stock stars like Mike Clark, Chuck Bradford, Donald Williams, Bobbi Jo Hults, Matt Wade, and Allen Hewitt.
The 500cc Mini Sprint division has encouraging pre-season registration numbers and an interesting mix of youth and graybeards. Orwell, Vt.’s Roger LaDuc, 67, was a three-time race winner in 2022, and he’ll face off against defending champion Logan Denis of Whiting, Vt., who won the title as a rookie at age 14 last year. The rest of the division runs the gamut in age and experience, with teenagers Raelin Dunham, Chayton Young, and Gage Provencher squaring off against veterans Kevin Smith, Vern Woodard, and former champion Ray Hanson.
The four-cylinder Mini Stock class – arguably one of the top entry-level divisions in the Northeast – enjoyed fields of 30-plus cars every week last season and is expected to produce similar numbers in 2023. Past feature winners who are expected to return include Jake Barrows, Chase Allen, Austin McKirryher, Griff and Mark Mahoney, Jarrod Colburn, Jake Mallory, and former champion Craig Kirby of St. Albans, Vt.
A new division has created a lot of buzz and excitement, as the self-explanatory “Crown Vic” class makes its debut on opening night, featuring exclusively Ford Crown Victorias – many of them ex-police cars. Norman Morrill, Derek St. George, Jackson Ducharme, and Rob Steele have filed early registrations, and as many as 10 cars could enter the first event.
Racing on Saturday, April 29 begins at 6:00 p.m. Grandstand general admission is $15 for adults and free for children aged 12 and under. Pit passes are $28 for members and $38 for non-members; the minimum age in the pit area is 10 years old, per Vermont state law.