Tim DeVos isn’t quite sure how long he’s been racing. He believes he started sometime around 1978, when he was around 18 years old.
He’s also not quite sure how many championships he’s won. There was one super stock title in the 1990s, and a couple other outlaw late model titles sprinkled in there.
There is one number of which he’s sure: 101. It’s the number of wins he has at Berlin Raceway.
That number is big in his mind, because it’s just two away from the all-time wins record at the NASCAR-sanctioned, 7/16-mile paved oval in Marne, Michigan.
There’s one other thing of which he’s sure.
“We’ll get it,” DeVos said of the record. “Unless something catastrophic happens in the meantime, we’re still plugging along, still winning races at a pretty good rate.”
DeVos has eight wins this season in Berlin’s Limited Late Model division. With three races left this season, he has a chance to tie, or even break, that record this year.
“It’d be pretty cool. It’d be nice to do that,” DeVos said. “Especially because when you first start out racing, you always dream of winning that first race, hoping you can possibly win a race someday, and then you finally get the first one. I don’t even remember the first win.
“And then you get another one and another one and pretty soon…” he adds, his voice trailing off at the thought. “It never gets old, though. Winning races never gets old. It always makes your weekend better if you won on Saturday.”
DeVos grew up about three miles from Berlin Raceway, and he could hear the cars racing on Saturday nights, always thinking it would be cool to build a race car and try it.
Unlike other drivers whose dads or uncles or family members showed them the ropes, nobody in DeVos’ family had ever raced before. His experience came from a guy he was working for at the time, who told him he would give a $3 an hour raise to help him build a race car “instead of beating the crap out of the company truck,” Devos said.
“So I did, and he gave me the raise,” he added. “I learned from him what little bit I could. I’d go to the track with him. He’d pay me to go to the track with him on Saturdays sometimes just to help out if he didn’t have a pit crew on a particular Saturday. So I’d get paid to go to the race track on Saturday, which was pretty cool.”
DeVos started racing not long after, but it took him a year or two to get a win.
“We went in pretty green,” he said.
A lot has changed in racing since DeVos began as a teenager, but he still does everything the same. He works on the car himself with friends Dave Avink and Richie Dygraph.
He’s also the same driver he’s always been.
“Just go, go, go,” he said. “I’m up on the wheel and drive the crap out of it the whole race.”
In four decades, DeVos has raced in just about every series at Berlin except the Modifieds. He’s racked up wins but hasn’t won as many titles. He came into each season and each race just trying to win as much as possible.
“I would start late in the season,” he said. “I ran Sportsman for a number of years and I would start, like, three weeks into the season, and I would still just about win the championship. Like, dang, I should have started on time.”
DeVos is currently fourth in Berlin’s Limited Late Model standings, and second in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Division II national standings, six points out of first.
“We’re having an excellent season this year,” he said. “It’s going pretty good. The car is fast. We’re winning a lot of races and finishing good in the ones we don’t win.”
DeVos has raced at many other tracks in his career, but Berlin will always be his home. It’s the type of track where if you can figure it out and get good, you can win anywhere.
And if there’s anyone who has gotten good at Berlin, it’s DeVos. He has 101 victories there to prove it, and three more chances to get a few more this season.
“I want to win them. I’m hoping,” he said of the rest of the season. “Or at least trying to. We’re going to give it our best shot. It’s going to be awful difficult to win three in a row, but we’ll give it a whirl and see what happens.”
NASCAR racing will return to Berlin this Saturday with Super Late Models, Limited Late Models, 4-Cylinders and Mini Wedges. All of the action can be seen live on FloRacing starting at 6:30 p.m. ET.