WEST HAVEN – Presenting a good show for the fans has always been a priority for the Richards family, and this year will be no different in that respect. The big difference will be in the racing surface itself, as “Vermont’s Fastest Half Mile” will make the conversion from a dirt racing facility to an asphalt speedway. Paving the track will make it more appealing to race fans, while creating more opportunities for different types of racing than in the past, as well as new marketing potential for sponsors and corporate partners.
Many factors have played a part in the decision, not the least of which is the inclement weather the northeast has been experiencing over the last five years. “Preparing and maintaining a dirt race track is extremely time consuming,” said promoter Jerry Richards. “We could easily spend 30 hours a week on track prep under ideal conditions. When it rains all week, that number doubles or triples. The fans are loyal to the sport and extremely patient during these times. We had a fairly miserable 2008 season, which was followed by the disaster of 2009 in terms of rain. We were always chasing the track, even during the show. This affects not just our fans, but our race teams endure the pain Mother Nature inflicts as well. If the racing surface has issues, then race cars get torn up. With pavement, the teams can focus on racing.”
Says Richards, “If it’s speed you like, we should be able to provide it. Once paved, Devil’s Bowl will be without a doubt, the biggest and fastest speedway in the state of Vermont.” For those who know their racing history, they may remember when C.J. Richards paved the track in 1970, returning to dirt two years later. Those were still the early days of racing in the northeast, and the fans and racers were not yet ready for the novelty of pavement. The Richards family is betting that they are now.
Jerry Richards has consulted with promoter Tom Curley of Thunder Road in Barre, who is pleased to see the Bowl returning to asphalt and has inked a deal for his Thunder Road late models to open the new era with a 100-lap feature event, Thunder at the Bowl, on May 23rd. “We hope this will be just the beginning of a new relationship between Devil’s Bowl and Thunder Road,” commented Richards.
Management has also laid the foundation for a new Modified Tri-Track Series in conjunction with Albany-Saratoga Speedway and Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Albany-Saratoga is located in Malta, N.Y. and is also owned and operated by the Richards family. Airborne promoter Mike Perrotte has shared his knowledge to help with the transition of the modified-type cars from dirt to asphalt. His facility has seen great success in racing dirt-style open wheel cars on a paved surface. “We are excited to offer this Tri-Track Series which will see our modifieds from both Albany-Saratoga and Devil’s Bowl traveling to Plattsburgh and vice versa in a series of 50- and even 100-lap races at all three facilities, the first of which is scheduled for Memorial Day weekend at the Bowl. There will be six races in total with $6,000 in point money up for grabs. It should make for some great competition for the fans,” said Richards.
Devil’s Bowl will still race on Sundays, but will be able to start an hour earlier because the sun won’t dry the track out like it can when the surface is clay. The earlier start should appeal to race teams and fans by enabling them to get home at a more reasonable hour. Admission pricing for adults will remain at $10 for a regular show, and new this year all children 12 and under will be admitted free. This should make a night at the races affordable for any family.
Devil’s Bowl will continue its tradition of great entertainment for everyone, offering several free admission nights for seniors, students, and veterans, among others. The first practice on the new surface is scheduled for Saturday, May 15, followed by another practice session on Saturday May 22, with the Thunder at the Bowl event on Sunday May 23. For a complete schedule of events and up-to-date information visit the website at http://www.cvra.com/ or call the speedway at 802-265-3112.