Devil's Bowl Speedway kicks off the season under new
WEST HAVEN- It's the beginning of a new season at Devil's Bowl
Speedway, marked by the smell of motor oil and the sounds of
engines warming up. Gates open for the track's 46th season of stock
car racing on Sunday, May 6 at 1:30 p.m. with the prestigious
Spring Green 112.
Touted as Vermont's fastest weekly stock car track, Devil's Bowl
Speedway is an oval semi-banked asphalt track half-mile around. It
hosts four weekly racing divisions- Modified, Late Models,
Renegades and Bombers- throughout the summer and is sanctioned by
the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
The opening 112-lap race will be the first under Bruno family
The new owners of Devil's Bowl Speedway, Mike and Alayne Bruno,
purchased the 75-acre facility on November 1, 2011, from founder
C.J. Richards. Devil's Bowl Speedway opened as a dirt track in 1967
and was paved in 2010.
Mike Bruno is, perhaps, better known in the racing world as a
champion stock-car driver who has claimed many prestigious
victories. Bruno grew up in a family of racers, and spent a lot of
his youth at Devil's Bowl. "Back then you could get in the pits at
12-13 years old," he remembers. Bruno began racing at Devil's Bowl
Speedway in 1988, when he was just 17-year-old, and went on to win
his first race there. He remembers the excitement in his family and
among his friends: "When you're doing this in High School everyone
wants to talk about it. I have high school friends that are now
following me on Facebook and Twitter... It's pretty cool that I'm
still doing my passion," said Mike Bruno.
Alayne Bruno also grew up racing. Living in South Burlington, her
home track was Catamount, which closed in 1987. She and Mike met
racing at the Devil's Bowl Speedway and have been racing together
for the past 18 summers.
"It's a passion for us more than anything else," said Mike Bruno.
"It's what we love and it has always been a big part of our lives
growing up... We're used to this way of life; we were used to
working until 11-12 at night on the race cars, we're just on the
other side of things now organizing the events and making all the
"I like to organize and to run an efficient deal. I like that just
as much as I do winning a race," Bruno continued. "On a race team
you're pulling 4-5 guys together to win the race, with a deal like
this you're pulling 30-40 people to race together and your putting
on a show for two, three, even four thousand people. I am able to
reach more people and I feel more gratification for that."
With a grandstand capacity of 3600 and hundreds more, when you add
the pit and other on-sight premises, it's quite a show to
Devil's Bowl Speedway is the fourth largest arena in the state,
said Justin St. Louis, the marketing and media coordinator for the
Speedway. "It's only behind UVM baseball field, [UVM] hockey arena
and the race track in Barre, Thunder Road," he said. Adding that
about 50 years ago there were about 22 race tracks in the state,
"now we're one of just three."
Those three include: Bear Ridge, in Bradford, a 1/4 mile dirt
track, Thunder Road, in Barre, a 1/4 mile asphalt track and Devil's
Bowl, in West Haven, a 1/2 mile asphalt track.
"We feel like we have a piece of history and we want to do what we
can to keep it going," Alayne added.
Since the Brunos took over in November, construction has been
underway. The 1967 building had not seen many upgrades in recent
years, so a new coat of paint and a thorough cleaning, in addition
to paving the pit and constructing a new wall, were among their top
priorities. "It's about tickets, toilets and traffic," Mike said
They've also made improvements to the ever-popular fun bus- a
painted school bus that drives kids (adults are welcomed, too) into
the pit area stopping at the different race car haulers where
drivers sign autographs and the ceiling of the bus. The bus then
continues onto the track where it does a lap of the speedway.
"It's a really fun experience," said Alayne. "Our kids were on it
non-stop. We never had to worry about were they were."
The Brunos also plan on reopening The Den, an on-premise bar with a
live feed to the races. Alcohol is not permitted in the grand
stand, as this detracts from the safe family environment they hope
to maintain at Devil's Bowl.
Additionally, there is an arcade on premise and the Brunos have
plans to open both a recreational and competitive go-cart series in
the coming months.
The current track only takes up about 20-acres of the 75-acres
property at Devil's Bowl. "We have many ideas," the Brunos say of
their plans to expand the facilities. "Mike is always looking for
the next new thing, so you won't see the Devil's Bowl dry up
anytime soon," adds Alayne.
Devil's Bowl has always been a family friendly track and the
Bruno's intend to keep it that way, looking to appeal to the larger
community in new ways. From local kids singing the national anthem
to fun intermission entertainment including plans for local police,
fire departments and/or media races between different towns'
departments, as well as the "Dare Devil" audience participation
races where some lucky winners will be selected to drive one of 12
race cars they are building for this purpose.
"The Dare Devil races are quickly becoming the most talked about
thing we've done yet," said Alayne. "We haven't even officially
announced it and people are coming up to us saying 'how do I get in
one of those cars?'…We hope by doing this, some of those
participants will 'get the bug' and want to get involved with race
cars regularly. They'll say 'I can do this!'"
There are a bunch of rookies in the line-up this year, in addition
to some local folks who have a good chance 'making it' if they can
find some key sponsors, Mike says. "Everything is about networking
so we'll try to introduce them to the right people. Ultimately,
each kid has to stand for himself, but it's certainly easier when
doors open for you... It is one of those things that take money.
It's a sponsor driven sport," he said.
99% of the racers out there will never go beyond Devil's Bowl or
Thunder Road, Alayne says, "They're just out there because they
want to be, to have fun. We want to bring it back to that; to build
hometown heroes within the community."
The pool of race car drivers is always diverse. The man who won the
Modified Championship last year was 58 years old, standing next to
a 16 year old who had placed third. Then there is Lieutenant
Governor Phil Scott racing next to folks that never graduated high
school. (Scott is hoping to be crowned Vermont State Champion in
the Late Model division this season. He will be racing at Devil's
Bowl June 8 and Sept. 15-16.)
The inaugural Downtown Rutland Car Show will kick off the race
season shutting down city streets in Rutland, May 5 from 9 a.m. to
12-noon. As many as 50 cars and stars of Devil's Bowl Speedway will
line Merchants Row for a "meet and greet" car show between
Washington Street and Center Street. Race fans will have a chance
to get up close and personal with not only the Devil's Bowl race
cars, but also with the local men and women who dare to drive them
Michael Coppinger, executive director of the Downtown Rutland
Partnership, helped make the event become a reality.
"Downtown Rutland is honored and excited to play host to the first
Devil's Bowl Speedway welcome party ever in Rutland City. Stock car
racing is one of the most popular sports in the country and because
of that we feel this event will draw many spectators into the
downtown from all over our region," Coppinger said, hinting at
possible future opportunities with track owners Mike and Alayne
Traditionally a Sunday track, the Brunos will switch to a 13-race
Friday night series after Memorial Day, May 26, through the month
"We have received a lot of positive feedback already," said Alayne
referring to the change to Friday night events. "Especially from
drivers' wives who are happy because now they have the weekend with
their husbands...With Sunday races, guys would traditionally string
out getting the car ready all weekend."
Devil's Bowl Speedway is located on Route 22A in West Haven, Vt,
six miles north of Exit 2 on U.S. Route 4. It is approximately 15
minutes west of Rutland. General admission is $18 for adults, $15
for seniors (62+), and free for children 12 and under; discount
season passes are available.