Devil’s Bowl Enduro – Battle of the Beaters

Devil’s Bowl Speedway capped its racing season with the most grueling form of no or low rules motorsport – The Devil’s Bowl Enduro. The Mountain Man 200 Enduro followed up hectic and fast finals in Sportsman, Stock and Mini Sprint classes and as a full moon rose over the Green Mountains, 50 junkyard-fresh racers gathered into the randomly selected starting line grid. Yellow flags were stowed for the duration of the night at New England’s fastest dirt track. Green, red and checkered flags were the only ones needed. The race must go on. Only a fire from a popped head gasket and melted engine or similar emergency would stop the race from standing start until the first car clocked 200 laps.

Once the Devil’s Bowl Enduro green flag was waved, total lunacy ensued as the cars and a truck ran eight wide down the straights and into the corners in early racing laps on the 1/2-mile banked clay oval in Fair Haven, Vermont. Contact is part of the Enduro formula. Numerous bumps and dents later the field was spread out by balance of performance, driver skill, and mechanical endurance. A rear-wheel drive former Vermont State Police Crown Vic battled against front-wheel drivers of every stripe and an assortment of station wagons. The sole truck driver hung out the bed on every corner and a rear wheel drive 3rd generation Camarobird F-body battled with a Mitsubishi Eclipse.

Rules encourage a variety of entries but stock means stock. Engines, suspension, brakes, steering, wheels and tires are strictly stock. AWD or 4WD? Nope. Sedan, hatchback, minivan, coupe, station wagon, or light pickup with a 113″ maximum wheelbase are A-OK. Full size trucks, vans or SUVS are out. Safety is the only place where racing equipment is allowed and each car must have a steel roll hoop and strapped in fire extinguisher. Glass, headlights, and all trim goes. Doors must be chained or welded closed, bumpers strapped or chained on, sunroofs closed up with metal, and a tow hook mounted coming and going.

Shark fin style car numbers are OK but like other decorative additions must be securely fastened. Offensive graphics or lettering are out but there is no rule on creativity and our personal favorite was the Battle Wagon, that had survived many a battle to race another day. Some cars had seen so many wars it was unclear what sort of car they were. Pit stops were allowed in a small area. Only the strongest survived as the race wore and engines expired.

In the end it was Richie Turner of Highgate, Vermont who was the first to 200 laps in his Chevrolet, took home the 1st place Mountain Man 200 trophy and Devil’s Bowl Enduro glory.

Currently based in New England, Mike Bumbeck is a journalist and 40-plus year driver and caretaker of everything from vintage econoboxes and turbocharged coupes to classic sports utility vehicles and motorcycles. He honed his skills writing about hot cars and punk rock in a pre-tech boom Bay Area before migrating back east as gigs with publishing empires and other pit stops fueled the past decade. An outside-the-box car guy, Bumbeck launched Clunkbucket in 2009 as a “place for the unsung heroes of the automotive universe.”