PHOTO: Devil’s Bowl Speedway new owner and promoter Mike Bruno discusses the 2012 season with prospective drivers and owners during Devil’s Bowl ‘Town Meeting’ held Sunday in Rutland. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM Photo)

RUTLAND — Mike Bruno and Devil’s Bowl Speedway have appeared to start off right with car owners and racers during their “Town Meeting” on Sunday. The meeting, held at the Holiday Inn in Rutland, was well received by drivers and owners as they were asked for their input from Bruno about ideas and thoughts for the 2012 season.

Bruno stressed to those in attendance that 2012 would be a fresh start, and not to look in the past at what happened before. Bruno, a racer himself, offered his new ideas as well to all four divisions in the meetings.

One of the big developments from the meeting was Bruno’s idea to run the 358 Modifieds and the 602 Crate Modifieds together. Bruno stated testing had occurred the week prior and that, using a restricted spacer plate on the 358 Modifieds, the times between the two cars were nearly equal. The track would own the spacer plates and be handed out when competitors arrive. Also, a softer right side tire will be used for the Modifieds in 2012, which should help create a second groove and benefit the other divisions as well.

Devil’s Bowl Speedway will have four technical inspectors for the 2012 season, one for each of its four divisions. Bruno stated that greater emphasis will be placed on technical inspection and felt each division having its own technical inspector was the best way to implement this. Each division will also elect a few fellow drivers to act as “spokespeople” for the division. These drivers would act as ambassadors to the division and would bring issues to Bruno should they arise.

Discussions were held about if the speedway should remain NASCAR sanctioned for the 2012 season and race under the NASCAR Whelen All American Series banner. Bruno explained the benefits of it to the drivers, and most in attendance liked the idea. Bruno stated NASCAR brings credibility to the speedway and guarantees a $20,000 point fund and insurance. With the potential that many drivers may not know Bruno as a business owner, he doesn’t want to create a culture that may question his ability to pay the purse and point fund. He feels NASCAR brings that security and credibility.

A discussion also occurred about a potential night change, moving the racing from its traditional Sunday night spot to Friday nights. The idea, which had been mostly well received, was questioned in the Modified meeting and debated. Bruno stated he would research the potential change further.

Bruno said the only touring series that will visit the speedway in 2012 would be the American Canadian Tour. Bruno wants to concentrate his time and money on building his own program, rather than spending that money toward an outside touring series. Bruno also stated that he wants to create a season ending ‘signature event’, similar to the two-day formats of the Milk Bowl at Thunder Road and the Oktoberfest at Lee USA Speedway, with the focus being on big Modified and Late Model races.

Late Models, Renegades, and Bomber/four-cylinder cars were also discussed during the meeting at respected times. The Late Models would be similar to ACT-type Late Models, but will welcome closely compared cars to help bring cars and racers to Devil’s Bowl. Renegade and Bomber division rules will likely stay the same, with a potential tire change discussed for the Renegades. Bruno and competitors also discussed “opening” the rule up to allow other cars to come from other tracks.

Devil’s Bowl will feature double file restarts in 2012, but left the option open to revert back to single file restarts should a particular race become unruly. Also new for 2012 is that the top three finishers in each feature will be recognized in front of the fans and will receive trophies. All racers will receive a purse check weekly, even if they finish last Bruno stated. Bruno explained numerous times that he wants an efficient show to be run in three hours weekl, and that races will be lined up, ready to go and there will be no extended breaks.

Bruno stated that he is planning a number of facility improvements, including creating an apron around the track, improving the pit area, and easier access for crews to go between the pit area and the grandstands. Bruno said fans would be able to move freely from the grandstands to their vehicles, and will be allowed to bring items in, including refreshments, cameras, and food.

Devil’s Bowl is also planning numerous events that they hope to attract fans and different groups of people. One idea Bruno explained as the track owning a dozen four-cylinder race cars to be run for 10 laps during intermission for extra entertainment. These cars may be offered to sponsors on a sponsors night, for area fire departments to run against each other, for area police officers to run against other, media members, and randomly drawing fans in the stands.

Bruno stated that Devil’s Bowl season would likely start in late April, and hopes to run at least 18 races.