Gray tackles asphalt, dirt, even rain to win first championship
WEST HAVEN, Vt. – This is the tenth and final installment of the “Devil’s Bowl Speedway 50th Season in Review” series. This series takes a retrospective look at an action-packed year of stock car racing in 2016 on the half-mile Asphalt Track and the 3/10-mile Dirt Track at Devils Bowl Speedway, division by division.
Enduro Series – Asphalt Track & Dirt Track
Champion: Cory Gray – Rutland, Vt.
The Enduro Series division again served its role as a fun, crazy, and inexpensive way for amateur drivers to experience and enjoy racing at Devil’s Bowl Speedway. The six-race series was put together to test racers and their virtually-street-legal cars on both the Asphalt Track and the Dirt Track. When the smoke cleared, Cory “Cubby” Gray of Rutland, Vt., won the championship for the first time and became the third driver in a row to earn the title without the benefit of a race victory.
The series opened on May 28 at Yorkmont Auto Auctions Night on the Asphalt Track. Gray led the first 38 laps of the race before Enduro veteran Jeff “The Butcher” Murray of Fairfax, Vt., charged ahead to take the win. Gray stuck to Murray’s bumper through heavy lapped traffic to finish second, with Andrew “Buck” Lopes third, Brandon Gray fourth, and former champion Brett “Woody” Wood fifth.
Independence Day weekend meant two nights of racing for the Enduro Series. A surprise rain storm during pre-race fireworks at the Asphalt Track on Saturday, July 2, was not enough to interrupt the Coca-Cola Firecracker race, and the crowd roared its approval when the decision was made to run the race in the wet. The downpour returned mid-race and cars were slipping, sliding, and spinning in every direction. Zach “The Mule” Wood of Georgia, Vt., came back from an off-track excursion to take the win, drifting his car around every corner. Cory Gray was second again with early leader Tommy Kudlacik third, Brett Wood fourth, and Hunter Murray fifth.
Racing continued on Sunday, July 3 at the WhistlePig Whiskey Firecracker at the Dirt Track, and Brett Wood was the dominant winner with his son Zach Wood finishing a solid weekend in second place. Cory Gray and Brandon Gray – no relation – finished third and fourth, respectively, with Ethan White fifth. Karl Raacke walked away from a high-flying flip that destroyed his police-themed car.
Zach Wood continued his sideways style on the Asphalt Track at Carrara Masonry & Concrete Night on August 6, winning again in an entertaining broadsliding display. Cory Gray continued his consistent summer in second place with Shawn McIntyre third. Brett Wood was fourth and Craig Kirby took fifth place.
The Enduro Series was in for a wild time at the Vermont 200 Weekend on September 11, with the first-ever “wide open” race held with racers able to drive on either surface. Brett Wood stuck to the Dirt Track and got his second win of the year with Eric “Mongo” Messier a close second. Cory Gray stayed on the Asphalt Track to finish third. Zach Wood and Jeff Murray alternated between the two surfaces to run fourth and fifth at the finish.
The season finale was held on the Dirt Track at The Stove Depot “King of the Clay” event on October 1, and it was Brandon Gray of East Thetford, Vt., won the race for the second straight year. It wasn’t a guarantee, though, as Messier poked ahead to the lead with three laps left. Gray – who admitted he didn’t know that Messier was close to him until he was passed – regrouped and took the victory.
Brett Wood finished third but Cory Gray ran fourth to clinch the championship ahead of Wood by a tight four points. Murray was fifth in the race and took third in the title chase. Zach Wood and Kudlacik rounded out the top five in the point standings.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway will be hosting an open-forum meeting on Thursday, November 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the American Legion in Fair Haven, Vermont. The meeting is open to teams from all tracks and all divisions from both asphalt and dirt.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway is located on Route 22A in West Haven, Vt., four miles north of Exit 2 off of U.S. Route 4 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 Twitter and Instagram at @DevilsBowlSpeed; follow the action using the #DevilsBowl hashtag.
FINAL 2016 POINT STANDINGS
Devil’s Bowl Speedway Enduro Series
1. Cory Gray, Rutland, Vt. – 280
2. Brett Wood, Georgia, Vt. – 276
3. Jeff Murray, Fairfax, Vt. – 236
4. Zach Wood, Georgia, Vt. – 234
5. Tommy Kudlacik, Milton, Vt. – 226
6. Craig Kirby, Winooski, Vt. – 202
7. Shawn Moquin, Milton, Vt. – 174
8. Kyle Botala, Grand Isle, Vt. – 164
9. Casey O’Connell, Burlington, Vt. – 156
10. Jake Barrows, Monkton, Vt. – 154
Feature Winners: Brett Wood (2), Zach Wood (2), Brandon Gray (1), Jeff Murray (1).
Photos by Andrew Cassidy & Nicole Laffond for Devil’s Bowl Speedway