WEST HAVEN, Vt. – The 2023 stock car racing season roared to life at Devil’s Bowl Speedway on Saturday, May 6, and the storylines already read like a novel. Third-generation driver Johnny Bruno was a first-time winner in his only planned appearance of the season, and Randy Ryan led an emotional charge for his family. Other first-time winners included Levi Cram and Rob Steele, with Robert Gauthier, Logan Denis, and Damian Olden also visiting victory lane.
Bruno scored the first win of his career in the 30-lap “draw race” feature for the top-level Sunoco Sportsman Modified division. The former Limited Sportsman champion was running in the only race he has planned for the 2023 regular season, as he returns to classes at the University of Central Florida soon.
Bruno used a fast car and a good starting position to find himself dicing with leaders Frank Hoard III, Tim LaDuc, and Justin Comes all race long. He survived a couple of late restarts to fend off LaDuc and Comes to land a popular $3,000 payday. Mike Bruno – the track’s promoter and the winner’s father – announced to the crowd that his son’s $3,000 prize would be divided evenly throughout the balance of the 31-car field to much applause.
Former track champion LaDuc settled for the runner-up position after a fierce battle with the younger Bruno. Comes stayed in line for third place, followed by Tanner Siemons and Billy Lussier. The top 10 was completed in order by Wayne Stearns, Kevin Chaffee, Hoard, Floyd Billington, and Brent Warren. Qualifying heat wins went to Bruno, Chaffee, and LaDuc.
The Ryan family authored its own emotional story in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Sportsman division. Orwell, Vt.’s Randy Ryan and his cousin, Benson, Vt.’s Anthony Ryan, finished 1-2 in the 25-lap main event – the first race since the passing of the Ryan family matriarch, “Lady Jane” Ryan, who was a fixture at Devil’s Bowl Speedway since its opening in 1967.
A.J. Munger appeared to be headed for the win when his engine went up in smoke with 10 laps remaining as he held the lead and was driving away from the field. That allowed the Ryans to mix it up in the front with Jason Quenneville, Timmy Aldrighetti, Alex Layn, and others, eventually sealing the sweep of the top two positions. Quenneville took third place ahead of Layn and Justin Lilly. Steve Miller recovered from a spin to finish sixth, followed by Aldrighetti, Hunter Nutter, Bob Kilburn, and Gary English.
The Limited Sportsman race was rough-and-tumble affair, and a scary lap 8 crash eliminated Daryl Gebo, John Gosselin, and others; no injuries were reported. Heats were won by Randy Ryan, English, and Nutter.
The Novice Sportsman division ran its first-ever championship points-counting race, and found Williston, Vt.’s Robert Gauthier in victory lane after 20 laps. Gauthier held off a hard-charging Tyler Travis in the closing laps for the win. Donald Williams was third with Randy Edson fourth and Adam LaFountain fifth. Holden Bass, Matt Wade, Eric Shaw, Boomer Patterson, and Josh Bussino rounded out the top 10 in order. Heat wins went to Williams, Bass, and Bussino.
Defending champion Logan Denis opened his sophomore season with a win in the Friend Construction 500cc Mini Sprint division. The Whiting, Vt., racer, who is just 14 years old, drew the outside pole position for the start and ran away with the 15-lap race.
Veteran drivers John Smith and Ray Hanson rounded out the podium finishers, followed by Gage Provencher and Roger LaDuc. Chayton Young was sixth ahead of rookie John Carleton, Tommie Kasuba, Aiden Benoure, and Caiden Herbert, who is driving in place of the injured Vern Woodard this season. Hanson and Denis won the heats.
Leicester, Vt.’s Levi Cram was a first-time winner in the 15-lap “A” Feature for the Mini Stock division. Cram took the lead from Mark Mahoney late in the race and sped away for the checkered flag. Mahoney held on for the runner-up finish, followed by Cody Dion, Jakobee Alger, and Austin McKirryher. Mahoney, McKirryher, and Ronnie Alger won the qualifiers. Ronnie Alger and Kyle Botala both walked away uninjured from multi-time rollovers during the race. The Mini Stock “B” Feature for non-qualifiers was won by Fair Haven, Vt.’s Damian Olden.
The new Crown Vic division, sponsored by 9th State Cannabis, made its debut with a four-car field, which is expected to grow quickly. Bomoseen, Vt.’s Rob Steele made history by scoring the inaugural victory. Norm Morrill, Jackson Ducharme, and Derek St. George completed the order.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway returns to action on Saturday, May 13, at 6:00 p.m. with the “Mother’s Day Weekend Special” including the first visit of the season for the Sprint Cars of New England tour; all weekly divisions (except Crown Vics) will be on the card as well. Grandstand general admission is $15 for adults and free for children aged 12 and under. Infield drive-in parking is also available for $20 for adults and free for kids. Pit area passes are $28 for members and $38 for non-members; the minimum age in the pit area is 10 years old, per Vermont state law.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway is located on Route 22A in West Haven, Vt., four miles north of U.S. Route 4, Exit 2, and just 20 minutes from Rutland, Vt. For more information, visit www.DevilsBowlSpeedwayVT.com or call (802) 265-3112. Devil’s Bowl Speedway is on Facebook at facebook.com/DevilsBowlSpeedway, and on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat at @DevilsBowlSpeed; follow the action using the #DevilsBowl hashtag.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – 57th Annual Season Opener
Devil’s Bowl Speedway – West Haven, Vt.
Saturday, May 6, 2023
Sunoco Sportsman Modified Feature (30 laps)
# – denotes rookie
- (2) Johnny Bruno, West Haven, Vt.
- (10) Tim LaDuc, Orwell, Vt.
- (3) Justin Comes, Middlebury, Vt.
- (12) Tanner Siemons, Orford, N.H.
- (4) Billy Lussier, Fair Haven, Vt.
- (29) Wayne Stearns, Bradford, Vt.
- (7) Kevin Chaffee, Bradford, Vt.
- (1) Frank Hoard III, Manchester Center, Vt.
- (16) Floyd Billington, South Glens Falls, N.Y.
- (11) Brent Warren, Salisbury, Vt.
- (26) David Boisclair, Watervliet, N.Y.
- (27) Mike Fisher, Castleton, Vt.
- (30) # Josh LeClaire, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
- (6) Brian Whittemore, Pittsford, Vt.
- (15) Austin Comes, Middlebury, Vt.
- (5) Vince Quenneville, Brandon, Vt.
- (14) Allan Hammond, Canaan, N.H.
- (25) John St. Germain Jr., West Sand Lake, N.Y.
- (17) Walter J. Hammond, Canaan, N.H.
- (28) Walt Hammond Jr., Canaan, N.H.
- (13) Dylan Rabtoy, Swanton, Vt.
- (24) Marty Kelly III, Shaftsbury, Vt.
- (9) Jimmy Ryan, Shoreham, Vt.
- (8) James Hanson, Orwell, Vt.
- (31) # Evan Roberts, Fletcher, Vt.
- (18) Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald, Gansevoort, N.Y.
- (20) Anthony Warren, Shoreham, Vt.
- (21) Travis Billington, South Glens Falls, N.Y.
- (19) Troy Audet, Bridport, Vt.
- (22) Drew Cormie, Argyle, N.Y.
- (23) Adam Piper, Leicester, Vt.
Hard Charger $100 Bonus: Wayne Stearns (+23 positions)
Heat Winners: Johnny Bruno, Kevin Chaffee, Tim LaDuc
O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Sportsman Feature (25 laps)
# – denotes rookie
- (10) Randy Ryan, Orwell, Vt.
- (7) Anthony Ryan, Benson, Vt.
- (9) Jason Quenneville, Quechee, Vt.
- (15) Alex Layn, New Haven, Vt.
- (6) Justin Lilly, Castleton, Vt.
- (5) Steve Miller, New Haven, Vt.
- (3) Timmy Aldrighetti, Bethel, Vt.
- (2) Hunter Nutter, Orford, N.H.
- (14) Bob Kilburn, Fair Haven, Vt.
- (8) Gary English, Salisbury, Vt.
- (13) Katrina Bean, Benson, Vt.
- (1) A.J. Munger, Benson Landing, Vt.
- (16) Kyle Kerr, Shoreham, Vt.
- (12) Scott Towslee, Manchester, Vt.
- (17) William Duprey, Hydeville, Vt.
- (4) John Gosselin, Shoreham, Vt.
- (11) Fred Little, Salisbury, Vt.
- (20) # Daryl Gebo, Orwell, Vt.
- (19) # William Lussier Jr., Fair Haven, Vt.
- (18) # Kamden Duffy, Richmond, N.H.
Heat Winners: Randy Ryan, Gary English, Hunter Nutter
Novice Sportsman Feature (20 laps)
- (1) Robert Gauthier, Williston, Vt.
- (11) Tyler Travis, Hartland, Vt.
- (2) Donald Williams, Ripton, Vt.
- (8) Randy Edson, Orwell, Vt.
- (7) Adam LaFountain, Starksboro, Vt.
- (3) Holden Bass, Benson, Vt.
- (19) Matt Wade, Fair Haven, Vt.
- (18) Eric Shaw, Wells, Vt.
- (10) Boomer Patterson, Milton, Vt.
- (5) Josh Bussino, Fair Haven, Vt.
- (17) Bobbi Jo Hults, Benson, Vt.
- (9) Derrick Counter, Salisbury, Vt.
- (4) Ed Bell, Orwell, Vt.
- (20) Allen Hewitt, Rutland, Vt.
- (15) Jeff Haskins, Wells, Vt.
- (13) Nick Austin-Neil, Salisbury, Vt.
- (12) Russ Farr, Granville, N.Y.
- (16) Jason Kerr, Shoreham, Vt.
- (6) Aaron Clark, Bristol, Vt.
Did Not Start: Michael Clark Jr., Salisbury, Vt.; Randy Bettis, Salisbury, Vt.
Heat Winners: Donald Williams, Holden Bass, Josh Bussino
Friend Construction 500cc Mini Sprint Feature (15 laps)
# – denotes rookie
- (2) Logan Denis, Whiting, Vt.
- (3) John Smith, Poultney, Vt.
- (6) Ray Hanson, Orwell, Vt.
- (9) Gage Provencher, Bridport, Vt.
- (5) Roger LaDuc, Castleton, Vt.
- (7) Chayton Young, Wynantskill, N.Y.
- (12) # John Carleton, Chittenden, Vt.
- (8) Tommie Kasuba, Castleton, Vt.
- (10) Aiden Benoure, Salisbury, Vt.
- (4) Caiden Herbert, New Hampton, N.H.
- (13) # Quinn Quenneville, Brandon, Vt.
- (11) Raelin Dunham, Queensbury, N.Y.
- (1) Chris Lennox, Eagle Bridge, N.Y.
Did Not Start: Kevin Smith, Brandon, Vt.; # Levi Benoure, Salisbury, Vt.
Mini Stock A-Feature (15 laps)
# – denotes rookie
- (10) Levi Cram, Leicester, Vt.
- (1) Mark Mahoney, Brandon, Vt.
- (8) Cody Dion, Rutland, Vt.
- (5) Jakobee Alger, Orwell, Vt.
- (11) Austin McKirryher, Proctor, Vt.
- (19) Clemmy Bell, Peru, N.Y.
- (9) Chase Allen, Fair Haven, Vt.
- (17) T.J. Knight, Wells, Vt.
- (21) Jarrod Colburn, Rutland, Vt.
- (18) # Robert Steve, Castleton, Vt.
- (13) Adam Mahoney, Whitehall, N.Y.
- (14) Jake Mallory, Granville, N.Y.
- (15) Tyler Bell, Peru, N.Y.
- (20) Nick Melotti, Mendon, Vt.
- (4) Craig Kirby, St. Albans, Vt.
- (2) Jake Barrows, Cornwall, Vt.
- (12) Scott Chandler, Pittsford, Vt.
- (7) Griff Mahoney, Bristol, Vt.
- (24) Kyle Botala, Grand Isle, Vt.
- (22) Tim Robinson, Center Rutland, Vt.
- (16) Brian Blake, Cornwall, Vt.
- (3) Tom Severance, Fair Haven, Vt.
- (6) Ronnie Alger, Orwell, Vt.
- (23) Freddy Burch, Middle Granville, N.Y.
Heat Winners: Mark Mahoney, Austin McKirryher, Ronnie Alger
Mini Stock B-Feature (10 laps)
# – denotes rookie
- (1) Damian Olden, Fair Haven, Vt.
- (5) Luke Fellows, Swanton, Vt.
- (2) Donald Olden, Poultney, Vt.
- (10) # Ryan Patch, Rutland, Vt.
- (7) Carl LaPoint, Wells, Vt.
- (4) Adam Stewart, Benson, Vt.
- (11) # Justin Cook, Peru, N.Y.
- (3) Andrea Noble, Wells, Vt.
- (8) Chris Hewitt, Pittsford, Vt.
- (6) Mary Gardner, Middle Granville, N.Y.
- (9) # Jimmy Baker, Peru, N.Y.
Did Not Start: # Becky Bruce-Girard, Poultney, Vt.; # Jayde Pope, Fair Haven, Vt.; Alton McCoy, Whitehall, N.Y.
9th State Cannabis Crown Vic Feature (15 laps)
- (3) Rob Steele, Bomoseen, Vt.
- (2) Norm Morrill, North Ferrisburgh, Vt.
- (1) Jackson Ducharme, Rutland, Vt.
Did Not Start: Derek St. George, Addison, Vt.