Fans help conclude track season
WATKINS GLEN--Race fans, driving everything from vintage Toyotas to modern Corvettes and pick-up trucks, got to drive three laps at Watkins Glen International starting Friday, Sept. 25 and ending Sunday, Sept. 27. Dubbed Victory Laps, the event allowed people to pay $25 to drive three controlled laps with proceeds benefiting Watkins Glen International's R.A.C.E. Foundation, which supports local community organizations of the Southern Tier as well as healthcare services in upstate New York during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We knew we wanted to find some way to provide our fans and the community an unforgettable experience at WGI in 2020," said Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup, adding, "The idea of the Victory Laps is a great way for everyone to still enjoy the 'Best NASCAR Track' while being safe, socially distant and raising money for a good cause."
John Havens of Syracuse drove on the track for the first time and called it an amazing experience.
"It was outstanding, I'm a racing car fan and always wanted to drive the track," Havens said. "It was like playing basketball in Madison Square Garden, only better."
While laps were driven at controlled speeds behind official Watkins Glen Pace cars, there were enough twists, turns and pedal mashing to make driving three laps of the 3.45-mile course more than worth the price of admission for those in attendance.
"It was crazy, I would do it again," said MJ Vrooman driving her meticulously cared for Toyota Supra five-speed from 1986. "I only got up to [highway speeds] and I had to downshift at the same corner every time, but my car handled really well and I would do it again. I can't imagine going on this track at the speed professionals must drive at."
Vrooman said she was thrilled with how well her car did.
The event itself was put on by Stoner Car Care.
"Stoner Car Care has enjoyed a long, successful history with Watkins Glen, both in racing our car and sponsorship at the track," Stoner, Inc. President Rob Ecklin Jr. said. "We are pleased to be part of Victory Laps weekend in support of the R.A.C.E. Foundation."