Grand Prix Festival set for Friday
WATKINS GLEN--Seventy years after the first sports car races on village streets, Friday, Sept. 7, the Grand Prix Festival of Watkins Glen is marking its own 25th anniversary.
Since its debut in 1993, the Grand Prix Festival's mission has been to evoke the sights, sounds and feel of the early days of sports car racing through the streets.
Watkins Glen racing began in 1948 and since then cars of every series have competed.
This year's festival honors Jaguar, with the Jaguar XK120 C-Type that won the 1952 Seneca Cup Race featured.
The car was driven to victory by John C. Fitch and will be among the restored cars showcased at the Corning Concours d'Elegance at Watkins Glen State Park.
The festival is sponsored by Chemung Canal Trust Co. and is presented by Watkins Glen Promotions. It also partners with the Hilliard U.S. Vintage Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International to present the competition cars of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association. During the reenactment laps, the cars travel around the original 6.6-mile circuit through the streets and surrounding countryside.
The downtown activities begin at 9:30 a.m. with a portrayal of a race car technical inspection at Smalley's Garage on Franklin Street. Festival patrons, friends and family will miss the longtime supporter of all things automotive, Tom Smalley, who passed away at the end of 2017. His family has continued operations at the garage, and again welcomes fans to the inspection reenactment.
Franklin Street will close to traffic at 12:30 p.m. Events then will include original-course laps by sports cars and motorcycles participating in nine different rallies or groups. Cars from the rallies, including the all-Jaguar Watkins Glen International Tour de Marque, will be parked for display throughout the festival area and at Lafayette Park.
At 3 p.m., David Hobbs celebrated driver in the Formula One, Le Mans and NASCAR, motorsports commentator and the festival's grand marshal, will be honored at The Legends Speak, presented by the International Motor Racing Research Center at Lafayette Park. At the microphone with Hobbs will be Davy Jones, another versatile driver, and motorsports writer Ken Parrotte.
The SVRA race cars will arrive on Franklin Street at 4:45 p.m. for display and their laps, which will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Festival-goers can take advantage of parking and free shuttle bus service from the Clute Park Community Center on Route 414 east of downtown Watkins Glen. Shuttle buses also will pick up on Porter Street on the east side of Lafayette Park and near the Middle School Apartments on Decatur Street.
For additional details about the Grand Prix Festival, visit www.grandprixfestival.com.
Events at the Watkins Glen International racetrack will take place from Friday, Sept. 7 to Sunday, Sept. 9. Friday will feature qualifying for the various classes, while Saturday and Sunday will have races. To access the racetrack, a weekend pass is $75 and Sunday only is $55. A full schedule of on-track activities can be seen at www.theglen.com.