Grand Prix Fest is next week in Watkins Glen

The Grand Prix Festival of Watkins Glen presented by the Chemung Canal Trust Company on Friday, Sept. 5, honors the history of racing in Watkins Glen and accentuates the allure of sports cars. This year’s featured marque is MG, a British car that has been racing in the Glen since the very first competition through the streets in 1948.Hundreds of iconic cars are expected as owners observe a range of MG anniversary celebrations. Among those anniversaries: the 60th anniversary of the Collier Brothers Memorial Trophy Race; the 55th anniversary of the first full, all-MG races held in the United States; and the 50th anniversary of the New England MG-T Register, which sends many members to the Grand Prix Festival each year.The national MG Vintage Racers organization has selected the Watkins Glen weekend as its focus event for 2014.Racing history aficionados and sports car fans will be treated to many other striking and memorable cars throughout the day.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 Corning Concours d’Elegance at the Franklin Street entrance to Watkins Glen State Park offers beautiful cars on display. A panel discussion by MG experts and owners 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 4:45 p.m. from Watkins Glen International, where they are competing in the weekend’s Glenora Wine Cellars U.S. Vintage Grand Prix.The vintage race cars are on display on Franklin Street until 6:30 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 MGs 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 notable 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 Maguire Chrysler of Watkins Glen 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 Glenora Wine Cellars, Lane’s Yamaha, Community Bank, Hector Wine Co., Watkins Glen International, Red Newt Cellars, Knapp Vineyards, Jerlando’s Ristorante & Pizza Co., Lane’s Yamaha, Hagerty Classic Car Insurance, Roosterfish Brewing Co. and the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. For more details about the Grand Prix Festival, visit grandprixfestival.com.

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