Glen Grand Prix Festival set for Friday
WATKINS GLEN--The Grand Prix Festival of Watkins Glen returns to village streets Friday, Sept. 11, with events running through Sunday, Sept. 13. Mazda is the featured marque, and more than 100 Mazdas will be joining the other 400 sports cars for the celebration of the history of racing in Watkins Glen. The event is presented by Chemung Canal Trust Company. This year's Grand Prix Festival extends through the weekend with several new activities.
"Our festival friends are going to have the same great experience as any other year," said Carole Pierce, Watkins Glen Promotions director of events. "Starting with Smalley's Tech Inspection first thing in the morning [at 9:30 a.m. Friday] to the fireworks in the [Watkins Glen] State Park gorge at dusk."
While the repaving project at Watkins Glen International moved the track event earlier in the summer for one year, Pierce said the festival used the opportunity to increase the fun events for both festival participants and observers. She said the single biggest difference is that instead of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association's (SVRA) race cars arriving on Franklin Street late in the afternoon for viewing and tribute laps, the committee is presenting a "Grand Autocade" of Lotus, Ferrari and classic American muscle cars. Vintage motorcycles also will be joining the Franklin Street parade and laps, Pierce noted.
"This will be a collection of cars never before seen at a Grand Prix Festival," Pierce said. "Imagine the rumble of those engines. The committee is very excited about this new feature, and we know everyone else is going to enjoy it too."
The Grand Autocade arrives at approximately 5 p.m. The show, as the cars drive laps on the original race circuit, is expected to be the highlight of the day. The cars will then park on Franklin Street for public inspection. Festival goers will be able to get a close look at the vehicles and chat with the owners.
Other features of the Grand Prix Festival weekend include:
• Classic racing films will be shown at the Glen Theater, including "Greased Lightning" with Richard Pryor (1977) at 7 p.m. Friday, "Winning" with Paul Newman (1969) at 7 p.m. Saturday and "Le Mans" with Steven McQueen (1971) at 5 p.m. Sunday.
• An all-day celebration of Can-Am racing Saturday starting at 9 a.m. at the International Motor Racing Research Center, 610 S. Decatur St. Former Can-Am champion racer Oscar Koveleski and Jack Deren, chief mechanic for Koveleski's Team Auto World McLaren, will be the program's headliners, along with noted motorsports journalist Pete Lyons.
• Glen Region SCCA Autocross at Watkins Glen International Saturday, an autocross featuring two different courses, one specifically designed for novices and first timers and the other a challenging course designed to satisfy the veterans of the sport. Entries are limited, but some space for walk-ons may be available. Spectators are also welcome.
• "Retrace the Race" Walking Tour, joining racing historian Bill Green and other knowledgeable folks on an historic walking tour of downtown Watkins Glen. The tour starts at noon Sunday, Sept. 12. Reservations are required by contacting the Glen Motor Inn at 607-535-2706.
• The Seneca Lake Wine Trail will feature three award-winning wineries in the Watkins Glen area, traveling along a carefully chosen road course. The event will run both Saturday and Sunday.
For more, visit the website www.GrandPrixFestival.com.