The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)
Racing into the modern era at ‘The Glen’
The arrival of the 2000’s saw several improvement projects at Watkins Glen International, including the addition of frontstretch grandstands from Pennsylvania’s defunct Nazareth Speedway, in addition to the gravel in ‘The 90’ being removed and replaced with a paved runoff area. Another overhaul included the installation of a new control tower, housing booths for series officials, timing and scoring, television and radio, and the public address announcers on top of the new grandstands, allowing for a better vantage point of the action from Turn 10 through the entrance of ‘The Esses’.
A new media center was also constructed to replace the former building, which had doubled as the control tower since 1971.
Prior to the 2014 season, the track was cleaning out a storage barn on the property when the original Dunlop Bridge was found. The bridge was originally used as a VIP area for Dunlop until being moved for use as the starters stand years later. It was taken down and replaced by a new structure during renovations in 2006. The bridge was erected near its original location between turns 1 and 2 and is now once again used for VIP use by companies on race weekends with the company sponsoring the bridge.
It was announced in early 2015 that the year’s racing season would conclude with the NASCAR tripleheader weekend in early August, rather than the traditional U.S. Vintage Grand Prix event in September, which was moved up in the year’s schedule. The one-off changes would allow for a complete repaving of the track, which incolved removing the entire racing surface. In some places, the track was taken down to the dirt road bed. The project was funded by International Speedway Corporation and a grant from New York State, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony in April 2015 prounounced the new track ready for action, highlighted by speakers Andy Lally, Derek Bell, and Bob Varsha.
Watkins Glen International’s popularity within the NASCAR community has exploded in recent years, as evidenced by the facility being named “America’s Best NASCAR Track” on four occasions. The venue has also announced reserved grandstand seating sellouts in each of the last five NASCAR Cup Series races, beginning in 2015, accompanying exciting finishes including 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott, above, capturing his first Cup Series victory in 2018.