Grand Prix Festival set for Friday
WATKINS GLEN (9/7/2016)--The annual Grand Prix Festival and Vintage Grand Prix races will be reunited this weekend after being separated last year. This comes after the U.S. Vintage Grand Prix was held in July of 2015 due to the repaving at Watkins Glen International (WGI), while the festival was still held during its traditional September date. This year's events will begin with the festival Friday, Sept. 9, and will continue at the racetrack through Sunday, Sept. 11. The festival is presented by Chemung Canal Trust Company, while the U.S. Vintage Grand Prix is presented by Jaguar.
According to Watkins Glen Promotions, the festival drew an estimated 25,000 people to the village last year. Corvette is the featured marque car this year, with Marianne Shoemaker estimating some 115 Corvettes are participating. She said the Corvettes will be on display in LaFayette Park, along with several others along Franklin Street and on the courthouse lawn.
"The crowd usually packs the village to capacity," Shoemaker said. "[The event] sells itself. I think the locals appreciate getting back in touch with the history of vintage cars."
Tour check-ins start at 8 a.m., with the annual tech inspection reenactment at Smalley's Garage located at 204-208 S. Franklin St. taking place at 9:30 a.m. The Corning Concours d'Elegance will be at the Watkins Glen State Park parking lot starting at 10 a.m. The concours is a judged exhibition featuring a selection of cars of special significance, including antique, classic, sport, and race that are more than 25 years old.
The Walk of Fame induction ceremony begins at noon at the courthouse lawn at 844-902 Franklin St. The Walk of Fame was established in 1993 and honors the driving greats who have competed on the Watkins Glen circuit since 1948.
Franklin Street will close between Second and 10th Streets at 1 p.m. for the Stone Bridge Drivers Old Course Lap Tours. "The Legends Speak," presented by the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC) begins at 3 p.m. at LaFayette Park. This includes an interactive panel discussion with selected racing legends of The Glen. The Corning Concours d'Elegance Awards Ceremony takes place at5 p.m.
The highlight of Friday's event is the Sportscar Vintage Racing Asociation's (SVRA) Watkins Glen Heritage Tour parade laps on the original circuit. The "pre-race" ceremonies begin at 5:35 p.m., with the parade laps beginning at 6:10 p.m. The evening will conclude with the Maguire Chrysler of Watkins Glen fireworks display at 8 p.m. at Watkins Glen State Park, prior to Franklin Street reopening at 9 p.m.
Events and times are subject to change. For more, visit the website www.GrandPrixFestival.com.
At the racetrack, the weekend will feature races among 400 vintage and historic race cars in 11 different groups. Gates will be open at 7 a.m. at WGI all weekend, with practice runs taking place Thursday, Sept. 8. Qualifying will run from 8 a.m. to 5:10 p.m. Friday. Saturday'sraces will begin at 8 a.m., with the final race of the day beginning at 4:40 p.m. Racing will continue Sunday, at 8 a.m. and run until the final race begins at 4:25 p.m.
For the full provisional race schedule, visit www.theglen.com.