NASCAR not coming to Watkins Glen in 2020 due to COVID-19

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WETM/AP) – NASCAR will not be coming to Watkins Glen in 2020, according to a schedule released by the organization.

Go Bowling at The Glen was originally scheduled for August 16.

The historic races on Daytona’s road course will replace NASCAR’s annual visit to Watkins Glen International, as New York state health and safety regulations cannot allow for the previously scheduled NASCAR weekend to happen there at this time.

NASCAR

“This is an unprecedented time in the history of our nation and Watkins Glen International,” said WGI President Michael Printup. “The dynamic situation we are all confronting is impacting our daily lives and activities in unimaginable ways. While we are disappointed we will not experience NASCAR in New York this year, as we look broadly at the current pandemic in our country and around the world, we must focus first on everyone’s safety and well-being as NASCAR seeks the best way to continue delivering a remarkable on-track product week after week.”

Ticketholders for the Watkins Glen International NASCAR weekend will automatically receive a credit for the full amount of their purchase, plus an additional 20% of the total amount paid in their account within the next 5-7 days. The credit can be applied to a future NASCAR race event in 2020 or 2021 at a NASCAR-owned track.

For additional ticketholder options and more information, please visit www.TheGlen.com/assistance-NASCAR. If a refund is preferred, requests are due August 7, 2020.

“Watkins Glen and Schuyler County as a whole have worked hard to contain the spread of COVID-19 and we are disappointed at this news. However, we understand the motivation behind the decision and look forward to partnering with NASCAR, Watkins Glen International, and other stakeholders to host successful events at this world-class facility in the future.”

Rebekah Carroll, Executive Director of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce

Printup previously told The Associated Press that WGI’s proposal to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be to allow only people from the state and within 150 miles of the track to attend due to a multi-state travel advisory.

“We think we have a pretty good plan on being able to allow a limited number of fans,” Printup said. “We know that to ask him to bring fans from outside the state was probably going to be a big stretch.

“It’s all about social distancing, temperature takes of every fan,” Printup added. “We can social distance them in the grandstands. We have plenty of those.”

And surely plenty of space to spread out. WGI covers more than 1,800 acres, one of the largest of the 12 tracks NASCAR owns.

“We could probably get 30% to 50% (capacity), but I think to be reasonable we’re going to have to probably bring that number down just to make the governor and his team comfortable,” Printup told The Associated Press. “If they get 30,000 at Bristol (in mid-July), that’s probably the outside of what we could do.”

In June, WGI announced that Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen will be rescheduled for Labor Day weekend, September 3-6, 2020.

Racing in Watkins Glen has been a tradition since the late 1940s. In 1957, a year after the 2.3-mile permanent circuit was built, The Glen hosted its first professional race, a NASCAR Grand National Stock Car event.  The following year, true international competition began with a Formula Libre race.

The Glen hosted the first Watkins Glen U.S. Grand Prix in 1961 and so began a fall tradition that lasted through 1980.

After the expansion of the circuit in 1971, The Glen saw a wide variety of competition, including the Can-Am, Trans-Am, Six Hours, Formula 5000, and CART Indy Car Series.  The Glen hosted races won by great drivers including Mark Donohue, Mario Andretti, Jody Scheckter, and Bruce McLaren.

The track closed briefly, due to financial difficulties, between 1981 and 1984, reopening on July 7, 1984 after Corning Enterprises purchased the track in early 1983, forming a partnership with International Speedway Corporation, resulting in Watkins Glen International.

By 1997, International Speedway Corporation bought out Corning Incorporated after Corning Inc. completed its mission to rebuild the race track and revitalize the Southern Finger Lakes Region.

This is a developing story and 18 News will have more information as it becomes available.

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