WEST HAVEN, Vt. – Demetrios Drellos picked up right where he left off last year: On top at Devil’s Bowl Speedway. The reigning Sportsman Modified champion opened the new season on Saturday, May 1, with a dominant win during a wildly unpredictable night presented by Mike’s Fuels of Bridport. A total of 118 racecars jammed the pit area and outer parking lot as a nice spectator crowd filtered in for the 2021 lid-lifter, and Drellos collected a whopping $3,200 for his victory in the race honoring the late Matt Bilodeau.
Joining Drellos in victory lane during the evening were Steve Pope, Andrew FitzGerald, Daryl Gebo, and Ray Hanson, with a broad spectrum of experience represented across the winners. Like Drellos, FitzGerald opened his title defense with a win, but neither Pope nor Gebo had ever turned a competitive lap before the night began, and Hanson had not raced in several years.
Drellos benefitted from a good draw for starting position in the 32-lap main event, and he was lucky to be ahead of an incredible wreck on the second lap that involved 10 cars and sent Frank Hoard III flipping wildly down the frontstretch; no drivers were injured. Don Mattison led the opening 10 laps in his return to Devil’s Bowl, but Queensbury, N.Y., runner Drellos worked past him and stretched out to a healthy lead.
Six restarts bunched the field and gave Tim LaDuc multiple chances to get to Drellos. The Orwell, Vt., veteran drove a brand-new car with extra motivation, as his mother, Barbara LaDuc – a staple of the local racing community for seven decades – had passed away the previous night. LaDuc tossed his car into the corners and put up a strong fight, but Drellos pulled away each time and knocked down the win.
Justin Stone, the 2020 Rookie of the Year, drove from 21st starting position to finish third, followed by Robert Bublak Jr. and a hard-charging Vince Quenneville, who earned his first top-five finish since September 2019. The top 10 was completed, in order, by Adam Pierson, Connor Cleveland, Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald, James Hanson, and Mike Fisher.
Drellos won $3,200 for his efforts, including bonuses from Crash Palace, N.E.W. Accounting, T.T. Sled & ATV Repair, and Lynn Pope. Qualifying heats were won by Tanner Siemons, Elmo Reckner, and Mike Ballestero, and Pierson won the consolation round.
Raw rookie Steve Pope scored a huge upset in the 25-lap feature for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Sportsman division. Making his first start in any kind of racecar, the Shoreham, Vt., racer wheeled his open-wheel Modified out front from the drop of the green flag. The race was slowed three times, including one red flag for a scary flip and fire by Timmy Aldrighetti and a second red flag for another 10-car pileup following a botched restart.
Third-year racer Anthony Ryan drove from 15th at the start to challenge Pope, and the pair traded the lead in each of the final four laps, but Pope made a sensational drive on the outside lane in the final corner to beat Ryan to the checkered flag.
Young racer Joe Venditti finished third in his first Devil’s Bowl start, followed by John Gosselin and Larry Gallipo. Gary English came from the last starting position to finish sixth ahead of Bob Kilburn, Austin Comes, Kyle Huntington, and Bill Duprey.
Pope won an impressive $570 including a big bonus from Liberty Graphics of Glens Falls, N.Y. A track record 32 cars entered the Limited Sportsman division for 24 starting spots. Bryce Breault, Evan Roberts, and Venditti won the heats. Huntington won the consi, and English took the lone transfer spot out of the last-chance B-Main.
Andrew FitzGerald wasted no time in making a statement that the Super Stock championship will once again run through him. The West Rutland, Vt., runner needed just four laps to drive from sixth to the lead. After a brief battle with Chris Murray, FitzGerald checked out on the field over the balance of the 20-lapper.
Murray survived a couple of hairy moments to take the runner-up finish, followed by Don Williams, rookie Chris Brown, and Mark Norris. The top 10 was completed by Paul Braymer, rookie Chuck Bradford, Kevin Elliott, and rookies Brett Wood and Andy Botala. Heats were won by FitzGerald and Josh LeClaire.
Daryl Gebo authored an impressive start to his racing history book, winning in his very first race in the Summit Up Construction Mini Stock division. The Orwell, Vt., rookie rocketed from fifth place at the start to lead the opening lap, and he never looked back with a dominant 15-lap run. Arty Heino finished second ahead of Craig Kirby, Chris Sumner, and Aaron Bunker.
Polesitter Jake Barrows finished sixth, followed by defending champion Chris Conroy, Willie Rice, Lynn Denton, and Brian Blake. The race went non-stop without a yellow flag. Bunker and Sumner won the qualifiers.
Ray Hanson picked a good night to return to racing, winning on the night presented by his employer and main sponsor, Mike’s Fuels. The Orwell, Vt., veteran took several years off from racing, but returned to win an ultra-competitive 15-lap feature for the Friend Construction 500cc Mini Sprint division. Young drivers Kaidin White and Kamden Duffy traded the lead back-and-forth in the first half of the race before Hanson entered the fray, and then he assumed the point and drove away in the final five circuits.
Duffy, 12 years old, finished second. Austin Chaves got past White and then held on in the final two laps as the top wing on his car peeled back and dangled behind the car. White, 11, finished fourth with Roger LaDuc fifth. Hanson also won the qualifying heat after recovering from a spin. Eric Wade was uninjured in a flip during the heat.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway returns to action on Saturday, May 8 at 6:00 p.m. with the Mother’s Day special. All five divisions will be in action, along with ladies-only Street-Legal Spectator Races. Grandstand admission will be $12 for adults and $5 for children (12 and under). Infield drive-in parking, weather permitting, will be $20 for adults and free for kids. Advance sale tickets will soon be available online https://buytickets.at/devilsbowlspeedway.
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 http://www.DevilsBowlSpeedwayVT.com or call (802) 265-3112. Devil’s Bowl Speedway is on Facebook at facebook.com/DevilsBowlSpeedway, and on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @DevilsBowlSpeed; follow the action using the #DevilsBowl hashtag.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – Mike’s Fuels Night
Devil’s Bowl Speedway – West Haven, Vt.
Saturday, May 1, 2021
Sportsman Modified Feature (32 laps – extended to 33 laps by green-white-checkered)
# – denotes rookie
1. (3) Demetrios Drellos, Queensbury, N.Y.
2. (5) Tim LaDuc, Orwell, Vt.
3. (21) Justin Stone, Middlebury, Vt.
4. (11) Robert Bublak Jr., Ballston Spa, N.Y.
5. (16) Vince Quenneville, Brandon, Vt.
6. (19) Adam Pierson, East Corinth, Vt.
7. (22) Connor Cleveland, Corinth, N.Y.
8. (4) Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald, Gansevoort, N.Y.
9. (23) James Hanson, Orwell, Vt.
10. (26) Mike Fisher, Castleton, Vt.
11. (24) Jimmy Ryan, Shoreham, Vt.
12. (7) Mike Ballestero, Ballston Spa, N.Y.
13. (2) Josh Masterson, Bristol, Vt.
14. (25) Mike Palmer, Salisbury, Vt.
15. (8) Elmo Reckner, Ballston Lake, N.Y.
16. (29) # Bryant Moore, Greenwich, N.Y.
17. (31) Travis Billington, South Glens Falls, N.Y.
18. (28) # Shawn McPhee, Rutland, Vt.
19. (30) Gene Pierson Jr., East Corinth, Vt.
20. (1) Don Mattison, Wells, Vt.
21. (27) Jim Introne Jr., Hartford, N.Y.
22. (20) Justin Comes, Middlebury, Vt.
23. (13) Joey Scarborough, Brandon, Vt.
24. (6) Marty Kelly III, North Bennington, Vt.
25. (10) Frank Hoard III, Manchester Center, Vt.
26. (9) Tanner Siemons, Orford, N.H.
27. (12) Alex Bell, Cambridge, N.Y.
28. (14) Brian Whittemore, Pittsford, Vt.
29. (15) Billy Lussier, Fair Haven, Vt.
30. (18) # Anthony Warren, Shoreham, Vt.
31. (17) # Johnny Bruno, Castleton, Vt.
Did Not Qualify: Pat Jones, Altamont, N.Y.; Brent Warren, Salisbury, Vt.; Floyd Billington, South Glens Falls, N.Y.
Lap Leaders: Don Mattison, 1-10; Demetrios Drellos, 11-33. (1 lead change among 2 drivers)
Cautions (8): Laps 1, 1 [red], 16, 19, 19, 30, 31, 31.
Heat Winners: Tanner Siemons, Elmo Reckner, Mike Ballestero
Consi Winner: Adam Pierson
O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Sportsman Feature (25 laps)
1. (1) Steve Pope, Shoreham, Vt.
2. (15) Anthony Ryan, Benson, Vt.
3. (7) Joe Venditti, Scotia, N.Y.
4. (4) John Gosselin, Shoreham, Vt.
5. (3) Larry Gallipo, West Rutland, Vt.
6. (23) Gary English, Salisbury, Vt.
7. (14) Bob Kilburn, Fair Haven, Vt.
8. (6) Austin Comes, Middlebury, Vt.
9. (18) Kyle Huntington, Piermont, N.H.
10. (13) Bill Duprey, Hydeville, Vt.
11. (20) Cody O’Brien, Springfield, Vt.
12. (2) Beau Reeves, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
13. (8) Evan Roberts, Fletcher, Vt.
14. (5) Josh Bussino, Mount Holly, Vt.
15. (12) Melvin Pierson, East Corinth, Vt.
16. (9) Bryce Breault, Queensbury, N.Y.
17. (21) Troy Audet, Bridport, Vt.
18. (19) Scott FitzGerald, West Rutland, Vt.
19. (16) Justin Lilly, Castleton, Vt.
20. (10) Randy Ryan, Orwell, Vt.
21. (17) A.J. Munger, Benson, Vt.
22. (11) Jeff White, Rutland, Vt.
23. (22) Timmy Aldrighetti, Bethel, Vt.
Did Not Start: Craig Wholey, Bolton Landing, N.Y.
Did Not Qualify: Dakota Green, Cambridge, N.Y.; Mike McGinn, Elizabethtown, N.Y.; Matt Jordan, Cambridge, N.Y.; Shawn Phelps, Richmond, Vt.; Jason Quenneville, Quechee, Vt.; Kartina Bean, Benson, Vt.; Samantha Mulready, Cambridge, N.Y.; Todd Randlett, Holderness, N.H.
Lap Leaders: Steve Pope, 1-21; Anthony Ryan, 22; Pope, 23; A. Ryan, 24; Pope, 25. (4 lead changes among 2 drivers)
Cautions (3): Laps 9, 20 [red], 23 [red].
Heat Winners: Bryce Breault, Evan Roberts, Joe Venditti
Consi Winner: Kyle Huntington
B-Main Winner: Gary English
Super Stock Feature (20 laps)
# – denotes rookie
1. (6) Andrew FitzGerald, West Rutland, Vt.
2. (1) Chris Murray, Fair Haven, Vt.
3. (8) Don Williams, Ripton, Vt.
4. (11) # Chris Brown, Shrewsbury, Vt.
5. (2) Mark Norris, Benson, Vt.
6. (4) Paul Braymer, Granville, N.Y.
7. (7) # Chuck Bradford, Addison, Vt.
8. (10) Kevin Elliott, Rutland, Vt.
9. (3) # Brett Wood, Georgia, Vt.
10. (5) # Andy Botala, Grand Isle, Vt.
11. (12) # Griff Mahoney, Bristol, Vt.
12. (9) Ronnie Alger, Orwell, Vt.
13. (5) Josh LeClaire, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Did Not Start: # Zach Wood, Georgia, Vt.
Lap Leaders: Mark Norris, 1; Chris Murray, 2-3; Andrew FitzGerald, 4-20. (2 lead changes among 3 drivers)
Cautions (2): Laps 4, 8.
Heat Winners: Andrew FitzGerald, Josh LeClaire
Summit Up Construction Mini Stock Feature (15 laps)
# – denotes rookie
1. (5) # Daryl Gebo, Orwell, Vt.
2. (6) Arty Heino, Newport, N.H.
3. (8) Craig Kirby, St. Albans, Vt.
4. (11) Chris Sumner, Ripton, Vt.
5. (12) Aaron Bunker, Newport, N.H.
6. (1) Jake Barrows, Middlebury, Vt.
7. (9) Chris Conroy, Newport, N.H.
8. (4) Willie Rice, Poultney, Vt.
9. (10) Lynn Denton, Milton, Vt.
10. (15) Brian Blake, Cornwall, Vt.
11. (13) Derrick Counter, Leicester, Vt.
12. (12) Travis Burroughs, Williamstown, Vt.
13. (14) # Chase Alen, Fair Haven, Vt.
14. (15) Mary Gardner, Middle Granville, N.Y.
15. (2) Jonathon Baker, Plymouth, N.H.
16. (17) # Jakobee Alger, Orwell, Vt.
17. (3) Jarrod Colburn, Rutland, Vt.
Did Not Start: T.J. Knight, Wells, Vt.; Freddy Burch, Middle Granville, N.Y.; # Jake Mallory, Granville, N.Y.; # Scott Chandler, Pittsford, Vt.; Adam Stewart, Benson, Vt.; # Adam Mahoney, Rutland, Vt.; Tim Simonds, North Clarendon, Vt.; # Austin McKirryher, Proctor, Vt.
Lap Leaders: Jake Barrows, pole; Daryl Gebo, 1-15. (1 lead change among 2 drivers)
Heat Winners: Aaron Bunker, Chris Sumner
Friend Construction 500cc Mini Sprint Feature (15 laps)
# – denotes rookie
1. (7) Ray Hanson, Orwell, Vt.
2. (5) Kamden Duffy, Richmond, N.H.
3. (6) Austin Chaves, Chester, Vt.
4. (4) # Kaidin White, Monkton, Vt.
5. (2) Roger LaDuc, Orwell, Vt.
6. (3) # Gage Provencher, Middlebury, Vt.
7. (8) # Tommy Kasuba, Castleton, Vt.
8. (1) # Kristopher Severance, Fair Haven, Vt.
9. (9) # Kyle Bruno, Proctor, Vt.
Did Not Start: Eric Wade, Rutland, Vt.; # Lynn Sumner, Fair Haven, Vt.; John McPhee Jr., Rutland, Vt.; Arnie Kasuba, Castleton, Vt.
Lap Leaders: Kristopher Severance, pole; Kaidin White, 1-5; Kamden Duffy, 6; White, 7; Duffy, 8-10; Ray Hanson, 11-15. (5 lead changes among 4 drivers)
Cautions (2): Laps 8, 11.
Heat Winner: Ray Hanson
Source: Justin St. Louis, Media Director