WEST HAVEN, VT – 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, he 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 Bruce Bernhardt-owned No. 27 EKeys4Cars.com/Unique Ford-sponsored entry leads a group of ACT invaders that is expected to include 2011 Spring Green winner Brian Hoar of Williston, VT, former Devil’s Bowl and ACT champion Jean-Paul Cyr of Milton, VT, New Hampshire Motor Speedway winner Ray Parent of Tiverton, RI, two-time Devil’s Bowl feature winner Brent Dragon of Milton, VT, and Oxford 250 winner Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. of Hudson, NH.
The ACT stars won’t be able to rest easily, though, 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, VT, Bryan Town of Claremont, NH, Dan Petronis of Mechanicville, NY and 2012 Rookie of the Year Robert Bryant, Jr. of Rutland, VT will be on hand, along with Devil’s Bowl regulars Hunter Bates of Middlebury, VT, Jesse Carris of Rutland, VT, and rookies Seth Bridge of Mendon, VT and Josh Masterson of Bristol, VT, 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, VT and Jeff Haskins of Wells, VT, and double-duty driver Hunter Bates.
Robert Gordon of Milton, VT will open his Renegade title defense against Richie Turner of Fairfax, VT and highly-touted rookies Stephen Donahue of Graniteville, VT and Ray Germain, Jr. of Bristol, VT. 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.
The 39th annual Spring Green is scheduled to begin at 1:30pm on Sunday, May 4. General admission is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors (62+), and free for children 12 and under. Discount season passes are also available.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway is located on Route 22A in West Haven, VT, four miles north of Exit 2 on U.S. Route 4. For more information, call (802) 265-3112 or visit www.devilsbowlspeedwayvt.com. Devil’s Bowl Speedway is on Facebook at facebook.com/DevilsBowlSpeedway and on Twitter at @DevilsBowlSpeed.