Many of you race fans love this road course track. Many of you hate it for the same reason. Regardless what side you are on, you have to admit that Watkins Glen wins the award for the most unusual beginning, best comeback, great road rages and the richest Formula One purse.. It is located near the village Watkins Glen at the southern tip of Seneca Lake , one of the Finger Lakes, in the north western section of New York State.
CAMERON ARGETSINGER: The Argetsinger family lived in the area since the late 1800's, Cam's father taught him to drive when he was only 12.(1933). Father and son both had a love of the twisting, undulating rural road lanes. and driving them as fast as they could. Road racing had lapsed before WWll. Cam's excitement in reading about the Vanderbilt Cup races, held at Long Island in the 1930's was his inspiration. Cam's first crude design, in 1947, was simply a bunch of magazines laid out over the living room floor, all lined up to represent roads. In 1948, Cameron upgraded his design by using asphalt, cement and dirt roads in and around the village. Cameron came in 12th, driving his MG-TC, in the very first race. Cameron and his wife eventually opened the International Motor Research Centre here. This centre holds over 2500 rare racing and reference books and many more historical media records.
TRACK HISTORY: The first race, with 23 cars, was held October 2, 1948. , By 1950 this event was drawing over 100,000 people.. 1956 the permanent 2.3 mile course opened , Formula One debuted in 1961, In the 1970's, Can_Am, Trans-Am, Six Hours, Formula 5000, and the Indy Car series were coming to the Glen. Financial difficulties in 1981, led to the Glen being dropped from the Grand Prix Circuit and the track closed. The track reopened, in 1984, after a partnership between Corning Glass Works and ISC. In 1986 Nascar Winston Cup returned to this track. In 1992 another loop was added making it 2.45 miles. It was then called The Bud at The Glen and it grew to become New York State's largest motorsports event. In 1997 ISC became the sole owner of this track. In the years since 1986, Watkins Glen and Infineon Raceway give the Nascar Cup series two road racing races each season. These tracks really challenge the abilities of stock car drivers. Some excel here. Others get replaced for this race.
THE 10 BITS: 1. The Glen was named best organized Grand Prix event 3 times, beating out Monte Carlo and other more glamorous tracks.
2. In 1957, the first Nascar race, called The Grand National Stock Car Event, was won by.Buck Baker (not Buddy) in an inch by inch battle with Fireballs Roberts.
3. Tim Richmond won the first Nascar race after the track reopened in 1984.
4. Terry Labonte won a Busch series race in 1991, and 1994,1995,1996. This 3 year streak ties him with Cup driver Mark Martin,(1993,1994,1995), and F1 racer Graham Hill, and sports car drivers Al Holbert and Derek Bell.
5. The most poles: Rained Out=4 (LOL), Mark Martin=3, Dale Sr =3, Jeff Gordon =2, Terry Labonte-2.
6. Winners from the pole: Mark Martin =3, Jeff Gordon =1, Tim Richmond =1.
7. Most wins: Tony Stewart =4, Jeff Gordon=4, Rusty Wallace=2, Ricky Rudd=2.
8. Wins by car make= GM =18 ( Chevy 13, Pontiac 4, Buick 1) and Ford=4.
9. Best Feud:August 14/2000, Jeff Gordon was driving for his 7th consecutive road course win, but Tony Stewart put him into the wall and Jeff did not reach his goal. After the race Gordon paid a little visit to Stewart's trailer to express his thoughts. A loud argument ensued, but did not end up in any violence. (Gordon won his 7th , but none consecutive win, the following year 2001).
10. For the Glen's 50th anniversary (1998) a Vintage Grand Prix was held, with many of the original cars and drivers.
SAD BITS: 1. Sam Collier was killed in 1950, when he was in the lead lap and his red Ferrari fishtailed and rolled. His brother Mike Collier never raced again after that.
2. That same race, another car left the road, seriously injuring a fireman and two spectators,
3. Cameron Argetsinger, 87, passed away last week, July 29/2008, at his home in Burdett New York.
Watkins Glen has grown from a magazine dream to become the premier road racing facility, in the USA. Whether you like road racing or not, this track brings out the best and the worst in the drivers. So get yourself comfy, grab a cold one, sit beside a warm one and enjoy this race !!