(WOMR file photo)
Well the series moves to the Southern Finger Lakes region of upstate New York this weekend for their second, and last, road course for the year. Watkins Glen International is located on the south tip of Lake Seneca.
Herein lies a brief history of the famous Watkins Glen International Raceway:
Law student Cameron Argetsinger dreamed of bringing European style competition to the village where he spent his summer vacations. He drew up a challenging course that encompassed asphalt, cement and dirt roads in and around the village of Watkins Glen.
The dream became reality on Oct. 2, 1948. For five years, the top names in American sports car racing visited the small village and huge crowds came out to watch them race.
Competition moved to a temporary course in 1953, and 2.3-mile permanent circuit was built in 1956. The following year, The Glen hosted its first professional race, a NASCAR Grand National stock car event won by Buck Baker over Fireball Roberts.
The circuit itself was expanded in 1971, as the 1970s brought a wide variety of competition to The Glen, including the Can-Am, Trans-Am, Six Hours, Formula 5000 and CART IndyCar Series. Race winners included many of the top names in international motorsports, including Mark Donohue, Mario Andretti, Jody Scheckter and Bruce McLaren.
Alan Jones’ victory in the 1980 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen marked the close of an era. Financial difficulties led to the Watkins Glen date being dropped from the Formula One schedule and as a result, the bankrupt track closed following a CART race in 1981. Over the next two years the track fell into disrepair, hosting only a few non-spectator SCCA weekends.
Corning Enterprises, a newly chartered subsidiary of Corning Glass Works, purchased the track in early 1983 and formed a partnership with International Speedway Corporation, forming Watkins Glen International. The Glen reopened on July 7, 1984, with Al Holbert, Derek Bell and Jim Adams winning the inaugural Camel Continental at the renovated facility. On Aug. 9, 1986, fans witnessed Tim Richmond’s triumph at the return of the Cup Series.
In 1991, Terry Labonte won the first Nationwide Series race at The Glen, beginning an impressive streak of four wins in six years, including three consecutive wins from 1994 through 1996. His three-year win streak ranks him with other Watkins Glen three-time winners: Formula One ace Graham Hill, sports car drivers Al Holbert and Derek Bell and Cup driver Mark Martin.
The 1992 season saw a major reconfiguration of The Glen’s back straightaway. The addition of the Inner Loop increased the length of the long course to 3.4 miles and the short course to 2.45 miles. The new turns enhanced competition while adding quality spectator viewing.
In 1997, International Speedway Corp. became sole owner of the historic road course, exercising a stock option buy-out of Corning Incorporated. The sale completed Corning’s mission of rebuilding the race track while revitalizing the Southern Finger Lakes Region.
Now that you know the history of this fabled road course, let us look at our choices for this Sunday’s road race.
Nearly 1/3 of the players have selected “The Tasmainian Devil”, Marcos Ambrose, as their choice to repeat his victory at Watkins Glen. There are five players that chose to get into the copilot seat with Ambrose. Those hopeful winners are; Karen, Leon, Jeremy, Jerry, and is the revised pick of Dawn.
There are four different drivers that have two players each betting the farm on them. Tony Stewart has our leader Jason and Edie will be wearing their Home Depot (brain fart, I mean Office Depot) war paint Sunday. Jeff Gordon has Jim and Dan wanting “The Drive to End Hunger” Chevy to be the first back-to-back winner this year. The 2013 Daytona winner, Matt Kenseth, has Marc and Bernie rooting him on with Zest! And lastly, Scott and Carlton will be munching their M&M’s, and hoping that Kyle Busch can turn around his lackluster season at The Glen.
The remaining players are, once again, in business for themselves with solo picks.
TIL THEN, PULL YOUR GLOVES UP, FLIP YOUR VISOR DOWN, AND LET’S GO RACIN’!