Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival schedule

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WETM) – The Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival will be “returning to the streets” this Friday, September 6.

The Grand Prix Festival celebrates the history of post-World War II Road Racing from 1948-1952–it all began in Watkins Glen.

The original race circuit will be closed to public traffic from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for the race re-enactments. In downtown Watkins Glen, Franklin Street from 1st to 11th Street will be closed from 12:45 p.m. to approximately 8:00 p.m. for a variety of activities.

Various tours of the original race circuit will occur between 2:00 p.m and 6:00 p.m.

Here’s a look at the schedule and what to expect during the day:

9:30 a.m.: Tech Inspection Re-enactment at Smalley’s Garage on Franklin Street. Features one or more SVRA race cars undergoing the re-enactment of the tech inspections done by Flossie Smalley during the street racing years.

10:30 a.m.: Hector Wine Company Glenkhana, State Park parking lot, 10th & Franklin Streets. A fun version of motocross, with crazy driving patterns and games. 12 Noon: Walk of Fame Induction Ceremonies (dedication of stones to be placed in the sidewalks). Nineteen drivers will be inducted this year.

1:00 p.m.: Franklin Street from Second and Tenth Streets is CLOSED TO TRAFFIC for the Festival’s Stone Bridge Driver groups to take their Cayuga Health Systems Two Laps of the Old Course. Franklin Street will be closed until 8:00 p.m.

The laps begin at the original START-FINISH line in front of the Courthouse.

The laps are not a “race,” but give drivers a chance to show off their vehicles in a tour of the original road course used from 1948-1952.

These laps run through the afternoon and include the following groups:

  • First group: Lane’s Yamaha Motorcycle Rally bikes; Lotus cars from the Lotus Owners Of New York (LOONY) Lotus Rally, sponsored by Lotus of Western New York; and unusual cars from the Community Bank Concorso Speciale!
  • Second group: The Tour De Marque Triumphs, a wide collection of Triumph vehicles –about 100 in all.
  • Third group: Glenora Run, more than 100 sports cars at least 25 years old.
  • Fourth group: Chateau Lafayette Reneau Founders Tour, more than 100 sports cars, joined by cars from the Hector Wine Company Glenkhana.
  • Fifth group:  Knapp Vineyards Sporting Roadster Tour, about 100 “roadster.” or open-top sports cars.
  • Sixth Group:  The Corning Concours d’Elegance vehicles–the “cream of the crop,” participating in the Festival’s judged auto show. 

Included in this year’s Concours will be the 1979 Datsun 280ZX driven by Paul Newman.  The car won 1979 C-Production races twice at Watkins Glen and also won races in Summit Point, West Virginia, Lime Rock,  Connecticut, Brainerd, Minnesota, and Atlanta, Georgia.  The car will be taken around the Old Course for the Concours laps and will join the SVRA cars later for the Old Course parade laps.  This car will be displayed at the Concours d’Elegance area, adjacent to the Watkins Glen State Park on Franklin Street. 

2:30 p.m.:  “The Legends Speak,” a collection of Grand Prix veterans with their memories–this year featuring the Grand Prix Festival Grand Marshal, Hurley Haywood. 

4:30-4:45 p.m.:  SVRA vintage race cars arrive on Franklin Street and are parked along the sides of the street from Fourth to Ninth Streets (quite a sight to see them arrive).  

5:00 p.m.:   Award ceremony for the Corning Concours d’Elegance winners, followed by the Festival’s ceremonies.  All of this at the stage at the Start-Finish line. 

6:00 p.m.:  The SVRA cars roar into action, taking parade laps of the Old Course.  

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