IndyCar Returning To Iconic Glen

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, May 13 2016


The IndyCar Series announced that it is returning to the Watkins Glen International road course. (IndyCar photo by Ron McQueeney)

The IndyCar Series announced that it is returning to the Watkins Glen International road course. (IndyCar photo by Ron McQueeney)

Watkins Glen International’s historic and recently repaved 3.45-mile natural terrain road-course has been added to the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule over Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 1-4 _ a date that figures to prove pivotal in deciding the 2016 driver’s championship.

bugindynotesEnding weeks of speculation, INDYCAR officials confirmed Friday the venue in New York State’s Finger Lakes Region has replaced an event originally scheduled for downtown Boston. Promoters for that inaugural event pulled the plug in late April after encountering opposition from groups citing noise, traffic and damage to city streets.

Preceded by an oval-track event at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania on Aug. 21, the race at The Glen will be the 15th on the 16-event schedule that will conclude on the Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway road-course on Sept. 18. An August staple on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, WGI’s weekend also will include an Indy Lights race.

“It’s great to have the Verizon IndyCar Series return to Watkins Glen,” Jay Frye, INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations, said in a statement from Indianapolis. “A tremendous amount of thanks goes to track President Michael Printup and his entire staff for their efforts in helping make this a reality in such a short time frame.

“Obviously, Watkins Glen has great racing history and it’s a track that will showcase the on-track competition and overall excitement level of our series. Our season is off to a great start and we can’t wait to bring the Verizon IndyCar Series back to our fans at Watkins Glen.”

The Glen joins Phoenix International Raceway in Glendale, Ariz., and Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on a 2016 schedule that returns INDYCAR to fan-favorite venues with deep history in the sport. WGI’s 60-lap event will be held on the track’s 3.45-mile permanent road-course and broadcast live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, XM 209 and Sirius 212.

The track’s storied open-wheel history, including as host of the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix, gave WGI the nod over an event at the Gateway Motorsports Park oval in Madison, Ill., near St. Louis. According to various reports, both WGI and Gateway are being considered for inclusion on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.

“We’re excited to welcome INDYCAR back to The Glen,” Printup said. “The fact that we could put this deal together so quickly shows how motivated each party was to make this happen for the fans and the competitors. I know our team has the capability to make this a premier event for INDYCAR, and I believe the drivers are really going to love the new asphalt and that translates into an exciting weekend for the fans. It’s truly a win-win for everyone.

“We’d also like to thank Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his support and diligence in bringing this international event back to Watkins Glen International. Tourism in the Finger Lakes Region and across New York State will benefit from this exciting addition to our 2016 schedule.” 

Watkins Glen International has played host to nine Indy car races, from 1979-81 and again from 2005-10. The first two events were run on the 2.4-mile “short-course” and won by Bobby Unser. The race moved to the traditional 3.45-mile “long-course” in 1981 when another open-wheel legend, Rick Mears, drove to victory.

The series returned to the historic circuit in 2005, with Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing winning three straight years before Ryan Hunter-Reay prevailed in 2008 for Rahal Letterman Racing. The late Justin Wilson secured the first Indy car win for Dale Coyne Racing at WGI in 2009 and Will Power took the checkered flag for Team Penske in 2010.

Tickets for the WGI event will go on sale next week and be available for purchase at TheGlen.com and by calling (866) 461-RACE. The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season continues Saturday with the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET) and includes the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29 (ABC, 11 a.m. ET).


Gabby Chaves, Sunoco Rookie of the Year for both the Indianapolis 500 and Verizon IndyCar Series in 2015, has been tapped by Dale Coyne Racing to drive the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

“We’re very excited to have Gabby join us for the next two races,” team-owner Coyne said. “We’ve been in communication for a long time and it’s all finally come together. (Gabby) showed a lot of maturity last season, he was quick, mistake-free and made great decisions behind the wheel that you don’t normally see coming from a rookie. We look forward to seeing what he can do in our No. 19 car.”

Although he hasn’t raced since last August’s season-finale, Chaves does have experience at Indianapolis. He finished 15th in his road-course debut and 16th in his first Indy 500 racing for Bryan Herta Autosport last May. The Mazda Road to Indy graduate also won the Freedom 100 as part of his Indy Lights championship-winning season in 2014.

“I’m really excited. It’s been the longest offseason of my life,” Chaves said. ”Throughout my whole career I’ve always been on the grid in the first race of the season and this has been the first time that I haven’t. I’ve been speaking with Dale for years now and I’m excited to get something going with him and the team. I’m just really looking forward to it. With my time out of the car, I’ve really been able to value what it means to me to be in a race car. I can now get back on-track and enjoy it even more.”


Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has introduced a new viewing dimension to Gasoline Alley at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Unlike other Verizon IndyCar Series teams that park their cars head-first into their stalls, team-owner Sam Schmidt has had each of his cars rotated 90 degrees so fans can get a full-side view inside the garage. Backing the work area are historic photos that detail the history of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“This place is all about tradition, but when you can do something that alters that, but respectfully, like we’ve done is awesome,” SPM driver James Hinchcliffe said. “Having the cars perpendicular to the doors is going to give fans a much better view and they’ll be able to see a lot more than just stare at the gearbox all day. The way the garage was finished with the history of the Indy 500 from 1911 until today really tells the story of this place and is just awesome to see in-person.”

The team also revealed the liveries that drivers Mikhail Aleshin and Oriol Servia will carry during the Month of May. Aleshin’s No. 7 Honda will showcase the first-person shooter DOOM, which will be released May 13 for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Servia’s No. 77 Honda will carry the white and red colors of Lucas Oil.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, May 13 2016
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