Courtesy of Bruno Family collection
Two-time Devil’s Bowl Speedway champion John Bruno (#22) will be honored at the track on Saturday, June 4.
Important figures from Vermont racing history to be honored during season
WEST HAVEN – Devil’s Bowl Speedway will honor the stars of the past during its 50th season of stock car racing in 2016. The West Haven, Vt., facility will host a Tribute Series to pay homage to some of its most beloved figures from its first 49 years. Six events have been confirmed thus far for Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s 3/10-mile Dirt Track and the half-mile Asphalt Track, with other events to be added.
The first event of the Tribute Series will be held on the Dirt Track on Sunday, May 22, as part of Opening Weekend. The guest of honor will be Mert “Socks” Hulbert, the inaugural track champion at Devil’s Bowl in 1967. Now 79 and still involved in short track racing, the Oak Hill, N.Y., native’s career includes 16 documented Modified and Sportsman victories at Devil’s Bowl including the first race ever held at the track on June 18, 1967. Hulbert became a cult hero after it was learned that he often drove races – and won – in his stocking feet.
The asphalt track will honor John Bruno Saturday, June 4. The Castleton, Vt., native was well-known as a driver, car owner, and crew chief and was most successful in Late Models on both dirt and asphalt, winning Devil’s Bowl championships as a driver in 1975 and 1982; he was an ACT Late Model crew chief at the time of his passing in 1998.
The Vince Quenneville, Sr. Memorial has been reestablished on the dirt track, and will be held on Sunday, July 10 at the double-points Mid-Season Championship race with a distance of 38 laps to honor his famous car number. The Brandon, Vt., racer won 33 documented Modified and Sportsman victories at Devil’s Bowl – including 11 straight from August 1968 to June 1969 – and a pair of track titles. Son Vince Quenneville, Jr., is the defending champion of the Asphalt Sportsman Modified division and won the most recent memorial event bearing his father’s name in 1990; Gene Munger, Claude Hoard, and Don Ackner also claimed wins in the race.
The fifth annual C.J. Richards Memorial event will continue with its traditional early-August date on Saturday, August 6 on the asphalt track. Richards built Devil’s Bowl Speedway in 1967 and was its promoter for 42 seasons, and was often known as a maverick for his innovative ideas. Richards will again be honored with a 67-lap Sportsman Modified race. Past winners include Hunter Bates, Todd Stone, Jessey Mueller, and Leon Gonyo.
The dirt track will host the “Ol’ Reliable 54” in honor of the late Charlie LaDuc on Sunday, August 28. Though his victories could be counted on one hand, the Orwell, Vt., veteran was viewed by fans and officials as the heart and soul of Devil’s Bowl Speedway and could be counted on to be at every event for several decades. The Dirt Sportsman Modified division will run 54 laps in honor of his legendary car number, and his son Tim LaDuc – a 46-time Devil’s Bowl winner – will be among the drivers chasing the win.
The Leon Gonyo Memorial 50 will be held on the asphalt on Sunday, Sept. 11 during the Vermont 200 Championship Weekend. The Chazy, N.Y., racer earned 12 victories on both surfaces over three decades at Devil’s Bowl. He dominated the second half of the twin-50 season finale for the asphalt Modifieds at the Vermont 200 in 2015, but passed away after a medical emergency during his victory lap. As such, the second event of the twin 50s at the 2016 edition of the Vermont 200 will be the Leon Gonyo Memorial 50.
Other Tribute Series races and special events are currently in the pre-planning stages and will be announced in the future.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s 50th season of racing will include NASCAR Whelen All-American Series-sanctioned action for both the half-mile asphalt and the 3/10-mile dirt tracks, totaling 27 scheduled events. The asphalt track will race on Saturday nights; the dirt track will race on Sunday nights; opening weekend is May 21-22. Devil’s Bowl is located on Route 22A in West Haven. DevilsBowlSpeedwayVT.com.