Devilbiss: Big Name In Racing


Doug Joins Brothers Slim, Butch In Love Of The Sport

May 05, 1991|By Stanley C. Dillon

Doug Devilbiss of Westminster knows what racing is all about.

TheDevilbiss name is well-known on the area's oval tracks. Doug's olderbrothers, Slim and Butch, were household names in the 1960s and '70s.

Slim won track titles at Lincoln Speedway in Hanover, Pa., in 1967 and 1971. It was only natural for the younger brother to follow in those footsteps.

But Doug didn't rush into racing. At first, he was satisfied working on his brother's cars. He says he still would be working on cars if it wasn't for friend, Butch Lewellyn.

Doug was 30 years old when Lewellyn wanted him to help build a car. After Dougbuilt it, Lewellyn wanted him to drive. But Doug wasn't interested; he just wanted to work with the car.

Lewellyn finally convinced Doug to get in the driver's seat. He began to race at Trail-Way Speedway, also in Hanover. But after a successful rookie year, he wrecked the car. The next thing Doug knew, Lewellyn wanted him to buy the car he had just demolished.

In a short period, Doug went from helper tobuilder to driver to owner. He has owned and raced cars ever since.

Doug rebuilt the wrecked car and, for a short time, had Gary Stuhler drive for him. Stuhler was driving for Butch Devilbiss on Saturdaynights, but drove a while for Doug on Friday nights.

Then Doug started racing at Trail-Way in the semi-late division and was the firstdriver to win a race there in a Ford. He won several races and a track championship until Trail-Way closed three years after his first race.

The temporary closing of Trail-Way forced Doug to switch to late models, a division he has been competing in since. He has raced mostly at Lincoln, but competed at Hagerstown when Lincoln did not havethe late models. Now with late models at Lincoln in 1991, Doug expects to race every week -- the most action he has seen since the early 1980s.

Throughout his career, racing has remained a hobby for Doug. He has kept cost under control and in perspective.

Even after heswitched to late models, Doug continued to do all the work on his own. He builds his own engines and races one of a few Fords on the latemodel circuit.

When Doug travels to the races, it is normally by himself. He is a one-man race team -- a builder, mechanic, driver andowner.

"I probably spend less on racing then anyone else," said Doug with a grin on his face. "I allocate so much money to race and I race to that point."

If something breaks that cost more money thenhe has allocated, he sits out until he can meet the cost.

Doug has been around long enough to know the damage racing can cause. He hasseen businesses fail and marriages suffer because drivers couldn't control costs.

He also keeps his car in his garage at home, away from his business, Doug's Garage in Westminster, where he does all kinds of major engine and transmission work.

"I found that if you don't separate them, you end up working more on the race car than the cars that you are supposed to," said Doug. "It's hard to keep your mind on the business with a racing car around. Instead of bringing money in, you're working on a car that is taking it. If you don't keep things under control, everyone will either talk racing or work on the racecar all day."

Doug likes to keep things simple and small.

"I can do things at my own speed," explained Doug. "I can work on the carwhen I want to. Race when I am ready. With fewer wrenches, I believeI have better quality."

Not only does Doug keep money in perspective, he keeps his family No. 1 on his priority list. He has four children, Doug, 22, who is in college, Heather, 14, Bryan, 12, and Jed, 10.

If anyone gives Doug a hand, it's his two youngest boys, both mechanically inclined. He expects them to be in the pits with him whenthey're old enough. Right now, they sit in the grandstands with his wife, Sharon, during the races.

Doug says he enjoys racing. And helikes the challenge of building and driving the car.

Because of his priorities, Doug is bound to miss a race now and then. It's been several years since he's competed on a regular basis, which has affected his sharpness. Still, Doug remains a top competitor; racing hasn'tpassed him by.

With Lincoln Speedway running every week, Doug is looking forward to regaining his old form. It's been quite a while since a Ford has won a late-model race at Lincoln -- and Doug is aimingto be the one to do it.

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