Watkins Glen, NY–Beautiful weather greeted participants and spectators for the annual SVRA Hillard U.S. Vintage Grand Prix Festival Friday in the Village here where racing fans have been coming to cheer on drivers since October 1948. Enthusiast and visionary Cornell student Cameron Artgetsinger organized that first road race on the 6.6-mile course laid out on village streets and local country roads, the racing later moving to a 4.6-mile circuit in 1953, which again used existing roads.
Less than ideal, and with motorsport gaining popularity year by year, a new purpose-built facility hosted its first race in 1956 on a 2.3-mile circuit a few miles from town. By 1971, the circuit had been extended to 3.377 miles with the addition of four new corners in a section that became known as “The Boot.”
Since then, Watkins Glen International has hosted many different racing series events, most notably Formula 1 and NASCAR. The Glen’s grand history lives on.
The Vintage Grand Prix weekend is a wonderful celebration of the motorsport’s past, along with the cars and people who have made it what it is today. The high point of the festival began at 6 p.m. for the reenactment—SVRA race cars driving the original Watkins Glen 6.6-mile street course, with thousands of cheering spectators gathering at various viewing spots along the route.
Serving as Grand Marshal for the VGP weekend is none other than Brian Redman, a two-time Sebring 12 Hours winner and three-time Formula 5000 Champion, and he took part in the Reenactment driving a beautiful Ferrari 312 PB.
SVRA racing continues throughout the weekend including the modern Trans Am Series by Pirelli.