No IndyCar at Glen in 2018

Track, se­ries can’t agree on suit­able date

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS - By Larry Ott SPE­CIAL TO THE NEWS

What this area’s Ver­i­zon IndyCar Se­ries fans have feared for the last month be­came re­al­ity Thurs­day when Watkins Glen In­ter­na­tional re­leased their its sea­son sched­ule and the IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen is ab­sent from it.

Af­ter run­ning the last two sea­sons at The Glen on La­bor Day Week­end and plagued both years by poor at­ten­dance, es­pe­cially this year with only about 10,000-15,000 fans there, The Glen will not host an IndyCar Se­ries race next sea­son.

Ham­burg na­tive and WGI pres­i­dent Michael Printup iden­ti­fied dif­fi­culty in draw­ing fans on a La­bor Day Week­end date as the cul­prit that in his es­ti­ma­tion proved too dif­fi­cult. Nei­ther side could come up with an al­ter­na­tive date that worked for 2018.

Printup said that the part­ing of ways with the IndyCar Se­ries was a mu­tual de­ci­sion made on be­half of him­self and IndyCar.

When the sched­uled in­au­gu­ral IndyCar Se­ries race set for Bos­ton, Mass., on the La­bor Day Week­end of 2016 fell through early last year, The Glen stepped for­ward in May of that year and formed a three year agree­ment to run an IndyCar Se­ries event an­nu­ally at The Glen through 2018. The cur­rent deal has now been ter­mi­nated one year short.

Printup fur­ther stressed that both par­ties tried very hard to find a so­lu­tion to al­low the IndyCar Se­ries to re­turn next sea­son but the race date dilemma proved un­solv­able at this time.

The Glen is be­ing re­placed on the 2018 IndyCar Se­ries sched­ule with a La­bor Day Week­end event at Port­land In­ter­na­tional Race­way. Port­land last hosted Indy car type com­pe­ti­tion from 1984-2007 un­der both the for­mer CART and Champ Car sanc­tions.

“IndyCar has such great peo­ple,” Printup said. “It was a mu­tual de­ci­sion. We talked right af­ter this year’s event with IndyCar and I said, ‘hey guys can’t we find a bet­ter date?’ They worked re­ally hard and we worked re­ally hard. We threw a bunch of dates around and we looked and we chat­ted and went back to the draw­ing board. Both sides worked their tails off. I have a lot of re­spect for that. With me lis­ten­ing to them and them lis­ten­ing to me it was 50-50 that we just couldn’t nail it down for 2018.”

Printup says that the door for a pos­si­ble re­turn of the se­ries to The Glen some­day will al­ways be open if the right cir­cum­stances pre­vail.

“We couldn’t find a change of date that would work,” Printup said. “We will now move on and con­tinue our dis­cus­sions for 2019, 2020 and beyond.”

What was Printup’s ob­jec­tion to a La­bor Day date?

“Our re­gion, the Watkins Glen re­gion, is just loaded with a va­ca­tion week­end then,” Printup said. “It’s the last week­end be­fore school. The kids just went back to col­lege. Ev­ery­body is try­ing to get their last week­end of fun in. It’s a mind­set of course but hol­i­day week­ends in the north­east just don’t work and I’m a true be­liever of that as far as rac­ing is con­cerned. IndyCar agreed but you know we ac­cepted Bos­ton know­ing that we would have to have it La­bor Day then ob­vi­ously and I was more than will­ing to give it that good old col­lege try as they say but we just couldn’t pull the strings to­gether.

“This is what I love about cur­rent IndyCar Se­ries man­age­ment, Jay Frye (IndyCar pres­i­dent of com­pe­ti­tion and op­er­a­tions), Stephen Starks (IndyCar pro­moter re­la­tions) and ev­ery­body on the team is that this isn’t a kick in the rear end and see you later type of deal. This was a hug and shak­ing hands mo­ment. There was a lot of emo­tion. We both re­ally en­joyed each other so we know that they be­long here. They know they be­long here-driv­ers, team own­ers, ev­ery­body in­volved with it, knows it. We just got to find the right mix to get the fans here.

“We didn’t get a lot of fans here this last race and that’s partly on us and partly on IndyCar. So that’s why I think we had a good part­ner­ship. We were hand in hand and arm in arm all the way on this deal.”

Watkins Glen man­age­ment still has a full sea­son of ac­tiv­ity planned for 2018 in­clud­ing a few big tra­di­tional week­ends on the docket.

The Mon­ster En­ergy NAS­CAR Cup Se­ries, NAS­CAR Xfin­ity Se­ries and NAS­CAR K&N Pro Se­ries East re­turns, Aug. 2-5. The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen fea­tur­ing the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Se­ries along with the Con­ti­nen­tal Tire SportsCar Chal­lenge, Porsche GT3 Cup Chal­lenge and other IMSA com­pan­ion se­ries will roll at The Glen, June 28-July 1.

The SCCA Ma­jors Su­per Tour runs June 22-24. The Fin­ger Lakes Wine Fes­ti­val is July 13-15. The U.S. Vin­tage Grand Prix hits the track Sept. 7-9.

“I al­ways get giddy and ex­cited and here I am go­ing into my tenth rac­ing sea­son here and my ninth year and I’m still happy and hum­bled to be able to rep­re­sent this race track,” Printup said. “There’s a lot of fun stuff that hap­pens up here at Watkins Glen In­ter­na­tional and I’ve got the best seat in rac­ing and we keep putting on the best show that we can for ev­ery­body. So up­ward and on­ward is the key. This is one cool small town and we got it rockin.”

Getty Im­ages file photo

There was IndyCar rac­ing at Watkins Glen this year and last, but there won’t be in 2018.

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