ChumpCar World Series: Watkins Glen International – Part 1
Driving down the Interstate is not always the most inspiring drive. My GPS must have recognized that I was getting bored because it suddenly announced that I should take a smaller highway. As I had the settings adjusted to the fastest route, I did not question but instantly – well, as instantly as a Ford E450 24' RV can respond – followed the path it directed me to take. Within fifteen minutes I was wondering what it was thinking as the route I was now on certainly was not fast, it was not scenic, and it was going to tie back into the same interstate that I had just left. Sigh! I was on my way to the ChumpCar World Series at Watkins Glen International so why was my GPS messing with me like this!
After what seemed like forever, (no wonder kids get bored on road trips) I finally got the indication that Watkins Glen was coming up. Off the interstate again and down some paved but narrow roads. Windy roads. Hilly roads. The kind of road that inspire a driver – even if the vehicle is a bloated RV! The drive in to Watkins Glen International Raceway is fantastic and I could feel my enthusiasm mounting. Memorial Day weekend and over 90 cars are ready to start this ChumpCar weekend – three days of endurance racing. Twenty hours of racing spread over three days on a race track nestled in the hills of cottage country. Now, my GPS took me on a route that normally an RV or truck towing a race car would not follow, but it did help to inspire me.
In an earlier article I commented about the harsh winter that the Northern States and Canada have experienced. This meant that I have only been out to an HPDE and a lapping day so far this spring. This would be my first race of 2014 so I was absolutely starting to feel the adrenaline kicking in. I also have to be honest to my new readers, I am not an experienced road racer. On my ChumpCar team I am the newest member and also the least experienced. So perhaps it is adrenaline mixed with a healthy amount of fear that is kicking in – because anyone who does not respect the track and recognize the danger blah blah blah. Danger, forget danger. My wife worries more than enough for the both of us about the danger of the sport I love. I just want to get on the track!
Cresting a hill there were the spectator stands and beyond that there was a second set of seating. There are actually grandstands everywhere. That was a shock to me, as I realized I was entering an area where motorsport is a huge spectator event. Pulling through the main entry way I had to stop and get a picture. Driving in and through the tunnel. Then onto the infield and the search for my team 'No Budget Racing 1 and No Budget Racing Too' consisting of a Honda Civic and a Mazda Miata. After driving through the paddock, walking through the garage, and then driving around a bit more I found them. Dusk was already setting so there was no time for a track walk that evening. Got the RV set up for the weekend and then settled down for a bit of writing and to unwind from a hectic week at work. It was now time to focus on the task at hand. A weekend of racing.
93 cars registered. Three or four drivers per car. Support team helpers. If you do the math it will be a phenomenal number. It was the largest driver's meeting that I have been too. At 11:30 Friday morning you could hear the engines starting across pit row and 93 cars got ready to head out to the track for the first race from 12 noon to 6 p.m., Saturday’s race would be from 9 to 5 and then Sunday’s finale would be 9 to 3. Watkins Glen International Raceway is a track that should be on your bucket list – and if it is not then please add it.