WEST HAVEN - Presenting a good show for racing fans has always been a priority for the Richards family, owners of Devil's Bowl Speedway on Route 22A in West Haven. 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 track 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."
Richards said, "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.