On July 12, 2023

Hammond steals Firecracker 50 at Devil’s Bowl Speedway


Eighth different winner in eight races

Walter J. Hammond was on his game for one of the year’s biggest events at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, stealing the victory in the Firecracker 50 on Saturday, July 1, before a packed Independence Day grandstand. 

Hammond led the charge on a busy holiday night that saw eight different drivers visit victory lane.

“Little Walt” became the eighth different winner in as many races to open the 2023 season at the Vermont track, taking the checkered flag in the headline Sportsman Modified division. The Canaan, New Hampshire, native is a third-generation driver who races weekly against his father, Walt Hammond Jr., and uncle, Allan Hammond, in the competitive lead class.

Hammond drew the sixth starting position on the 28-car field, but like everyone, he trailed pole sitter Brent Warren for the first 23 laps. Warren held the lead and was looking for an upset win, but former champion Tim LaDuc took over after the race’s second restart. LaDuc was up front for five more restarts after grabbing the lead, but the final one with just three laps left proved to be his undoing.

Hammond started next to LaDuc on the front row for the restart, and he was able to run away with the lead and hold on for the final circuits. Hammond’s win was his first of the year and the third of his career at Devil’s Bowl. LaDuc settled for the runner-up finish — his fourth of the year — and took over the championship point lead from Justin Comes. Kevin Chaffee came from the 16th starting position to complete the podium.

Four-time Devil’s Bowl champion Todd Stone made his first start of the season a good one, driving from 19th to finish fourth and earn the $100 “Hard Charger” bonus. Comes finished fifth, ahead of Vince Quenneville, Marty Kelly III, Troy Audet, Billy Lussier, and David Boisclair. Qualifying heat wins went to Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald, Audet, and LaDuc.

While Hammond extended the new winners’ streak in the Sportsman Modifieds, Orwell,  Randy Ryan was doing his best to keep all the accolades to himself in the Limited Sportsman division. Ryan posted his second-straight victory and third of the season in a competitive race that was extended one lap by a green-white-checkered finish to 26 laps.

Ryan started sixth in the race but was a factor early on. John Gosselin led the first two laps before Jason Quenneville took over, and his battle with Ryan was on almost immediately. During a long green flag run, Ryan took the lead at lap 12, only for Quenneville to wrestle it back three circuits later. Ryan was able to get back on top at lap 17, though, and then outlasted Quenneville on three quick restarts at the end of the race for the win.

Quenneville took the runner-up spot ahead of Hunter Nutter, Anthony Ryan, and Steve Miller. Gosselin slipped back to finish sixth, followed by Bob Kilburn, Scott Towslee, Alex Layn, and Freddie Little. Heats were won by Gary English, William Duprey, and Miller.

Another Randy from Orwell – this time Randy Edson – became the eighth different winner in eight races for the Novice Sportsman class, taking a 20-lap feature. As first-year dirt driver and former motorcycle racer Eric Shaw led from the pole position, Edson was in a mess in traffic in the early laps. After a rough start to the race, Edson made his way toward the front and took the lead from Shaw after a restart on lap 11.

Edson, the 1994 champion of the former Late Model division, held on for two more restarts to get the victory, with Shaw posting his best finish in second. Adam LaFountain stayed on a hot streak by driving from 11th to finish third, while Ed Bell and Boomer Patterson also came from deep in the field to round out the top five. Mike Clark was sixth ahead of Nick Austin-Neil, Robert Gauthier, Tyler Travis, and Jeff Haskins. Austin-Neil and Matt Wade won the heat races.

The 500cc Mini Sprint division ran a pair of 15-lap features and saw two drivers earn their first wins of the year. The opening race was a makeup for the event rained out one week earlier, and Poultney’s John Smith scored the victory. Kevin Smith, Ray Hanson, John Carleton, and Raelin Dunham completed the top five finishers.

In the second race, it was Carleton — a 67-year-old rookie from Chittenden — who earned the first win of his career. Chayton Young was the runner-up ahead of Roger LaDuc, Hanson, and Logan Denis.

The Mini Stock division had an overflowing 35 entries, so the field was split into two A-Main feature races. Former champion Craig Kirby made his long haul from St. Albans, pay off with his first win of the year in the first 15-lap race after starting 12th on the grid. Jakobee Alger finished second, followed by Jake Barrows, Brian Blake, and T.J. Knight.

Whitehall, New York’s Adam Mahoney posted his second win of the year in the nightcap, driving from seventh starting position to beat Jake Mallory, Mark Mahoney, Clemmy Bell, and Cody Dion in a caution-free race.

The Enduro Series ran its 50-lap race green-to-checker without a single red flag. Whiting’s Eric Leno outlasted the field for his second win of the year. Eric Messier was the runner-up ahead of Zach Wood, Sportsman Modified driver Tim LaDuc, and Anthony Johnson.

For more information, visit: DevilsBowlSpeedwayVT.com or call (802) 265-3112.


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