WEST HAVEN—Devil’s Bowl Speedway is making a big change for the 2021 season. The historic half-mile Vermont dirt track is switching to Saturday as its primary race night for the new year, setting itself up for a schedule that should be more convenient for fans, competitors, and officials.
Opening night will be Saturday, May 1 — the earliest scheduled opening since 1990. The full 2021 season schedule is still being finalized and should be released in January or early February.
Devil’s Bowl has operated on Sunday nights through much of its 54-year history but racing on Saturdays is not a new idea; a total of 12 seasons have been run on Saturdays, dating as far back as 1974 and as recently as 2017. Four Saturday night races were held in 2020 to serve as indicators of what a full-time move might look like, and the test was met with rave reviews. Informal polls of fans and racers on fall episodes of Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s “Let’s Talk Racing” show on Facebook Live also showed overwhelming support for Saturdays.
Devil’s Bowl promoter Mike Bruno feels that racing on Saturday nights has several added benefits including easier travel for many racers and fans. Sunday also becomes an automatic rain date if needed, and the strong possibility exists for a series of special events or practice sessions on Sundays.
“Many of our fans and racers travel from 90 minutes away or more, and that makes for some tough Monday mornings,” Bruno said. “One of the best parts of short track racing is when fans come into the pits at the end of the night to meet the drivers and see the cars, and that just doesn’t happen on Sundays anymore because people are on the go. Saturday night is not perfect for everyone, but Sunday night is a lot tougher than it used to be.”
While the positives of racing on Saturdays may be obvious, Bruno said that the decision was made only after an extensive look at how the switch might negatively affect teams and neighboring dirt tracks.
“We looked very hard at how many cars we would gain or lose by switching to Saturdays, and whether or not we would hurt any other tracks in the area,” Bruno continued. “I don’t believe that we’ll have a negative impact on any other tracks. If we did, we would stay on Sundays. We know that a small number of our drivers are committed to race at other tracks on Saturdays and may not return to Devil’s Bowl, but we also know that we will gain several others who couldn’t make Sundays work.”
In addition to the schedule announcement, Bruno revealed that the full championship point fund for the 2020 season has been distributed to drivers in all five divisions. In the absence of a proper Banquet of Champions due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than $22,000 in checks have been mailed to drivers and car owners. Bruno said that an award ceremony to recognize the achievements of 2020’s top drivers is planned for opening night at the speedway on May 1.
Pepsi Sportsman Modified champion Demetrios Drellos received $5,000 for his efforts after a sterling season that saw him win five times including the Interstate All Battery Center Vermont 200. The Queensbury, New York, driver earned a season total of $26,826 in prize money aboard his General Motors “602” crate engine Sportsman car in his first full season at Devil’s Bowl in 2020.
Johnny Bruno of Castleton pocketed $1,200 for his second consecutive title in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Sportsman division. West Rutland’s Andrew FitzGerald took $800 for his first Super Stock crown, Chris Conroy of Newport, N.H., received $500 for his first Mini Stock championship, and Springfield’s Cody O’Brien earned $300 for his second Friend Construction 500cc Mini Sprint title.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway is located on Route 22A in West Haven,4 miles north of U.S. Route 4, Exit 2, and just 20 minutes from Rutland, Vt.
For more information, visit DevilsBowlSpeedwayVT.com or call (802) 265-3112.