WEST HAVEN-After months of hard work, Devil's Bowl Speedway has been transformed from a dirt race track to a modern paved speedway. The venerable track has been an institution in western Vermont since 1967 and will be opening its 44th season of racing on May 23 on a brand new asphalt surface provided by Wilks Paving of West Rutland.
"Working with a local company like Wilks is the way I like to do business," said track promoter Jerry Richards. "Chris Wilks has been with me every step of the way and I couldn't be happier with the final product. We worked together using input from Mike Perrotte (promoter of Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh) and Tom Curley (promotor of Thunder Road in Barre) to design the progressive banking in order to turn this clay track into a paved surface that would provide the same level of excitement and competitive racing that we're used to."
Jerry and brother Bruce Richards (promoter at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y.), along with sister Sharon Richards, are partners of both race tracks and owners since 2005. In the past, Jerry managed the facilities while Bruce handled the promotional responsibilities. This year Bruce will take on all aspects of management at Albany-Saratoga and Jerry will do the same at Devil's Bowl. Jerry noted "Bruce lives in New York and I live in Vermont. It just made good business sense. It would have been a big enough learning curve for both of us without the decision to go to pavement, but we've been through a lot together and he's learning from me at the same time I'm learning from him. As far as the asphalt goes, we're learning together. Perrotte and Curley have been instrumental in helping Jerry Richards to make the transition to pavement racing.
Having the advice of the other nearby pavement promoters has been invaluable. Richards noted, "In working together, we hope to maintain and even strengthen local short track racing. It's a tough business, seasonal and dependent on weather and you have to have a certain amount of backbone to be in it year after year. Having grown up with it, it's in our blood and none of us can really imagine doing anything else, so this is a big gamble for us, but one we feel will really pay off going forward."