|Photo- Getty ImagesBy Jason Schultz
As the season continues on, we near closer to the second road course race of the season at Watkins Glen. The Glen is always a phenomenal race and after last year’s race, it is a must see race. Last year we saw some spectacular crashes, a first time winner and great racing action. Watkins Glen is a driver favorite track because of the high speeds it offers and especially because of the wineries that surround the region. The race at Watkins Glen has taken on new meaning in the last few years because of the potential for a driver to win and move into the wild card hunt and have a shot at making the Chase. The Glen is also a fan favorite track and track officials expect one of the biggest crowds in track history to show up in a few weeks.
Recently I discussed the changes at the track from the previous year and different aspects of the circuit with Watkins Glen’s president Michael Printup. He gave me some insight on what to expect in the coming race and shared some of his past with the track.
How did you become associated with Watkins Glen International?
“I have been with International Speedway Corp for 12 years. (I) started off as a VP of another business unit, lobbyist in NYC when we were trying to build a NASCAR facility there, MIS and now here.”
What changes have been made to Watkins Glen International in preparation for this year’s NASCAR events?
“We have been spending 1-3 million every year making The Glen a better place for the fans. This race properties always need upkeep and we always try to use capex monies to enhance the fan experience. Better bathrooms/showers, addition to The Glen Club, racetrack improvements for competitors and fans and even an ice cream machine for all of our media.”
After David Reutimann’s scary crash in turn two in last year’s Sprint Cup Race, what did Watkins Glen International do to improve the turn two wall setup?
“Well, that crash was scary and David is a good friend. We took the Armco on both sides of the track and pushed it back about 30 feet. Increased the size and length of the catch fence and added more curbing.”
With only weeks until NASCAR comes to Watkins Glen International, when will a race sponsor be made for the Sprint Cup Race?
“I have been saying 2 weeks for 3 months. We had a solid deal going in the right direction but I am not so confident right now. We’ll see.”
Are ticket sales up at Watkins Glen for the NASCAR events so far?
“We have been trending in the “black” since last November and we are really proud of that. We are the only race track in the country that has added seats so right now I am hoping we can sell all of those out!”
How did Watkins Glen International decide on the new grandstand names?
“We sent out on twitter and facebook a note to all or our fans and used a bit old fashion democracy routine. We let the fans vote on what they wanted.”
Do you think Watkins Glen would be interested in bringing the Camping World Truck Series to the Glen someday?
“I would love to have the trucks here but we are working on a few things right now. We’ll see if we can do that!”
What do you expect for the coming NASCAR weekend at Watkins Glen?
“I expect that our team will make all of our fans have the best darn race of the year. We have had the best racing of all the track(s) the last 3 years and I expect that to continue. The new short tracks are what some of the media is calling The Glen! I always look forward in just seeing the smiling faces of our crowd that historically just falls shy of 100k. That is fun and that is why I have the best job ever.”