Grand Prix Fest returns to The Glen on 9/6

The Grand Prix Festival of Watkins Glen, presented by the Chemung Canal Trust Company, will mark its 20th anniversary of honoring the village’s racing heritage on Friday, Sept. 6.The Mini is this year’s featured marque.The Grand Prix Festival celebrates the early days of racing in Watkins Glen by filling the streets with beautiful sports cars and historic racing cars, to the delight of an always-enthusiastic crowd.The historic Smalley’s Garage on Franklin Street is the site of the day’s first event at 9:30 a.m. – a portrayal of race car technical inspections. Hundreds of cars later, the day ends at 8 p.m. with a spectacular “low” fireworks display at Watkins Glen State Park, with the world-renowned gorge as a backdrop.The Chemung Canal Trust Company Concours d’Elegance at the Franklin Street entrance to Watkins Glen State Park offers beautiful cars on display. A panel discussion by motorsports insiders is presented by the International Motor Racing Research Center in Lafayette Park.The festival’s day-long centerpiece is laps by sports cars and vintage race cars around the original 6.6-mile race circuit along village streets and onto roads of the surrounding countryside. That circuit was used in the first race in Watkins Glen on Oct. 2, 1948.Cars of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association arrive in the village at 4:30 p.m. from Watkins Glen International, where they are competing in the weekend’s Glenora Wine Cellars U.S. Vintage Grand Prix presented by Welliver. The vintage race cars are on display on Franklin Street until 6:10 p.m., when they get the green flag in front of the Schuyler County Courthouse for their “tribute” laps on the original circuit.Other participant events include five road rallies, one for Minis only and one for vintage motorcycles only, and a just-for-fun parking lot obstacle course. Rally cars arrive downtown during the afternoon and are parked in designated areas along Franklin Street – another opportunity to see some memorable vehicles.The Festival offers tastings of Finger Lakes wines presented by the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, a variety of food and several motorsports vendors. The village’s restaurants, shops and gathering places also enthusiastically join the spirit of the day’s celebration.The Grand Prix Festival culminates at 8 p.m. with the fireworks show.Free shuttle bus service all day allows visitors to park away from downtown traffic congestion.The Festival is sponsored by the Chemung Canal Trust Company, headquartered in Elmira, N.Y. It is organized by a volunteer committee of the non-profit Watkins Glen Promotions. Additional Festival sponsors include Community Bank, Hagerty Classic Car Insurance, Hector Wine Company, Jerlando’s Ristorante & Pizza Co., Knapp Vineyards, Learn Motor Co., Red Newt Cellars, Lanes Yamaha, and Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

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