The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 18, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Rutland to host Devil’s Bowl Downtown Fan Festival

Racecars and drivers to line Rutland City streets before the 39th annual Spring Green opener

Saturday, May 4 at 9 a.m.- RUTLAND - One of Vermont's largest cities will rumble with the sound of stock car engines on Saturday as the Downtown Rutland Partnership hosts the second annual "Devil's Bowl Downtown Fan Festival." One day before Devil's Bowl Speedway in nearby West Haven, Vt. opens for its 39th annual "Spring Green" event, as many as 50 sparkling new race machines will line Merchants Row - in the heart of the shopping, dining, and entertainment district of the city - beginning at 9 a.m. Admission is free.

Cars and drivers from the Bond Auto Parts Modified, Late Model, Renegade, and Central Vermont Motorcycles Mini Stock divisions of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series will be on hand, along with Late Model teams competing in the American-Canadian Tour championship. Fans can meet the drivers, collect autographs, and enter to win a Devil's Bowl Speedway 2013 season pass and are encouraged to check out the local offerings at shops and at the Farmers Market on nearby West Street.

New features highlighting the work done by each race team's crew members have been added to this year's Fan Festival, including Best Appearing Car awards and a Pit Stop Competition. Best Appearing Car awards will be decided by a panel of officials judging overall workmanship; winners will be announced at the Spring Green event at Devil's Bowl Speedway on Sunday, May 5. The Pit Stop Competition, scheduled for 11 a.m., will see race teams go head-to-head in a timed two-tire pit stop on Merchants Row. The Fan Festival wraps up with a parade of racecars through the city streets at 12-noon.

In cooperation with the Downtown Rutland Partnership (DRP), the Fan Festival will also include a show-and-shine for vintage, classic, custom, and all other types of street vehicles.

"Last year nearly 1,000 fans attended, we thought it would be great for those enthusiasts to participate directly with their own cars," DRP Marketing Coordinator Laura Conti said. "It might be a vintage Mustang, a Model T, an antique truck … or if you have a great new car, you can enter that, too." For information on the street car show, call (802) 773-9380 or visit www.rutlanddowntown.com.

The Fan Festival will be held 9 a.m. to 12-noon on Saturday, May 4. The 39th annual Spring Green begins at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday,May 5 at Devil's Bowl Speedway.

1--cover -story --option -#2-Downtown -Fan -Festival --carshow1

THE SPRING GREEN
Spring in Vermont is a beautiful time of year. New flowers bloom in the meadows, birds chirp away, and the aroma of fresh-cut grass hangs in the breeze. All of that will go unnoticed on Sunday, May 5, though, as the brightly-colored, loud-as-thunder, rubber-burning machines of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and the American-Canadian Tour charge into Devil's Bowl Speedway for the 39th annual "Spring Green" stock car spectacular.

Nearly 80 drivers and race teams from around the northeast and Canada are expected to pack the pit area of the Rutland County speed plant as the season opens with the historic Spring Green event. With as many as 40 roaring Late Model cars expected to attempt qualifying for the 113-lap main event - one of the American-Canadian Tour's oldest and most prestigious races - the season definitely comes in like a lion at Devil's Bowl.

Wayne Helliwell, Jr. has the Devil's Bowl opener circled on his calendar. In two visits to the fast half-mile track, the Dover, NH driver has had two very different experiences - in 2011, Helliwell crashed in his qualifying heat and took a 100-mile-per-hour mud bath off the backstretch; last year, he posted his first-ever ACT Late Model Tour victory and went on to win the series' championship. He says the Devil's Bowl track is one of his favorites.

"I'm definitely excited to get back. I like it, and I liked even when we had that wreck," Helliwell said. "The speed is awesome. The high-speed entry into the corners makes you use a lot of brakes, and the side-by-side racing is some of the best anywhere. Devil's Bowl really suits my driving style. I can't wait."

Helliwell's No. 27 entry leads a group of ACT invaders that is expected to include 2011 Spring Green winner Brian Hoar of Williston, former Devil's Bowl and ACT champion Jean-Paul Cyr of Milton, New Hampshire Motor Speedway winner Ray Parent of Tiverton, RI, two-time Devil's Bowl feature winner Brent Dragon of Milton, and Oxford 250 winner Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. of Hudson, NH.

The ACT stars won't be able to rest easily, as a strong contingent of weekly Late Model competitors from Devil's Bowl Speedway plans to defend the home turf. Title contenders Kevin Elliott of Rutland, Bryan Town of Claremont, NH, Dan Petronis of Mechanicville, NY and 2012 Rookie of the Year Robert Bryant, Jr. of Rutland, will be on hand, along with Devil's Bowl regulars Hunter Bates of Middlebury, Jesse Carris of Rutland, and rookies Seth Bridge of Mendon and Josh Masterson of Bristol, the 2012 Mini Stock champion at Devil's Bowl.

The Late Models won't be the only stars of the day, as the Spring Green event also opens the championship season for the Bond Auto Parts Modifieds, Renegades, and Mini Stocks of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Vince Quenneville, Jr. of Brandon, VT will attempt to repeat his Spring Green victory from 2012 in the Modified class, but he'll have to go through two-time defending track champion Ron Proctor of Charlton, NY to do it. Other top contenders include Alex Bell of Cambridge, NY, sophomore drivers Joey Roberts of Georgia and Jeff Haskins of Wells and double-duty driver Hunter Bates.

Robert Gordon of Milton will open his Renegade title defense against Richie Turner of Fairfax and highly-touted rookies Stephen Donahue of Graniteville and Ray Germain, Jr. of Bristol. The Mini Stock title chase is wide-open with Masterson graduating to the Late Models; Bobby LaVair of Gabriels, NY searches for his first title with the rest of the division in hot pursuit.       

General admission is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors (62+), and free for children 12 and under.  Devil's Bowl Speedway is located on Route 22A in West Haven, Vt.  For more information, call (802) 265-3112 or visit www.devilsbowlspeedwayvt.com.

Photo by Leif Tillotson, courtesy of Devil's Bowl Speedway

Photo courtesy of Devil's Bowl Speedway