DIRTcar Sportsman Modified racers from the Northeast will trek south to Lake View Motor Speedway (SC) on January 29-30 for the South of the Border Showdown. One such driver will be getting behind the wheel of a race car for the first time in a decade.
Since 2011, Mike Bruno’s focus has been promoting Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Vermont. During that span, the track has transitioned from a pavement facility to a track near the forefront of Northeast Dirt Modified racing.
Before that, Bruno was a racer himself. Now, the South of the Border Showdown gives him another opportunity to put on the firesuit.
“I raced for a long, long time,” Bruno told Speed51. “When we purchased Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Vermont, that curtailed my racing career in 2011. I focused on the track for the last 10 years.”
Bruno’s son, Johnny Bruno, is in the process of moving up to the Sportsman Modifieds after embarking on his own racing career in recent years. This created the necessity for two race cars in the Bruno family – and opened a seat for Mike Bruno at Lake view.
“In that progression, we started my son out racing in a kids division when he was 10 years old. We made him run four-cylinders three or four years. Two years ago, he moved up to the Limited Modified division. He won the championship two years in a row at Devil’s Bowl, and he’s won races at Albany-Saratoga Speedway and Devil’s Bowl.
“This year, he’s moving up to the main 602 crate division that’s predominant here in the Northeast and we needed to build him another car. He plans on running Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Friday nights and here on Saturday nights.”
The father-and-son duo will take turns in the two cars during practice night of the South of the Border Showdown weekend, with the younger Bruno getting first choice between the two cars for the two nights of racing to follow.
“I’ve been wanting to get back behind the wheel in a couple of years. Now, the time is right. We can go to South Carolina, practice on Thursday night. We’ll both practice each car. He’ll pick which car he likes the best, the coil car or the torsion-bar car, and then I’ll drive the second car. It’ll be the first time in 10 years.”
Mike Bruno is ecstatic for the event, knowing a strong contingent of the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified competitors will make the trip south and put on a great show.
“Any time you can have a one-off or niche deal, it’s always more popular. Bringing in a deal like this, Scott Tripp and Tim Clemons will do good on this because of the curiosity factor. They’re going to see some good wheel-to-wheel racing. These cars are close. The drivers going down are top-notch. I don’t know how many cars are going down, but I’ve heard 28 and 30. I think the people watching are going to see a hell of a show.”
While Lake View Motor Speedway is located in South Carolina, owners Scott Tripp and Tim Clemons have connections to the northeast of their own. Bruno even recalls racing against Clemons at Albany-Saratoga in the past.
That connection makes the trip an easier one for racers like Bruno, who know the management team at Lake View aren’t flying into the event blindly.
“It’s neat to have them run a race track down there and bring these cars and have that connection. I think that will help them as well. I think if someone just called up wanting to do a show, I don’t think they would have the same connection as these guys. It makes me more comfortable to go down there with two cars, knowing these guys understand how things happen with these cars.”
As a track promoter himself, Bruno also wanted to support the South of the Border Showdown and hopes many of his own racers will follow him to the Palmetto State.
“That’s one reason I supported this. We’re in Big Block, Small Block country here, but our premier division on Saturday nights is 602 crate cars. We average between 30 and 34 in the main division, and between 20 and 24 in the Limited Sportsman. We have 60 of these cars in our pit area on a weekly basis here at Devil’s Bowl.
Race fans unable to attend the South of the Border Showdown at Lake View Motor Speedway can click here to watch live on Speed51.TV.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Mike Bruno Facebook