INDIANAPOLIS – The Verizon IndyCar Series will return to Watkins Glen International on Labor Day weekend and this morning, tickets go on sale.
Last weekend, and we didn’t get to it in greater detail, but INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Jay Frye and Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup explained how quickly this deal came together for the Sept. 4 race.
“The process was pretty quick. We can’t thank Michael and his whole staff at Watkins Glen for their yeoman-like effort the last couple weeks,” Frye said.
“We got the news a couple weeks ago that something was going on, and that might have been around 5:00, and by 5:01 I was talking to this gentleman on the phone, and from that it kind of led a life of its own.
“It certainly was great interest on his behalf, great interest on our behalf. We were thinking more about 2017, but obviously we’re a year ahead. All the rumors, all the enthusiasm that we saw from the rumors was going on was very, very high, so we couldn’t be more pleased to go back to Watkins Glen. It’s a great facility, great history, and again, we can’t thank Michael and his staff enough for being willing to do this on such short notice. So far, so good.”
Printup added, “Friday night at 5:01, it was an awesome moment. I can tell you that. I was really excited to hear from Jay, and like he said, we had met earlier in Phoenix. I was out there on business, and Jay and I and Stephen sat down, and I have to say the same thing about his team.
“Jay and I took one or two phone calls over the weekend, we had a follow-up even Friday night at like 9:00 that night, we exchanged a couple emails Saturday and Sunday, and we didn’t talk again for like another week because we handed it off, or week and a half. We handed it off to our teams, and the teams really put the deal together. Jay and I obviously were the cheerleaders and champions on both sides. I know that. But both our teams really are responsible for putting this together, so we couldn’t be more proud.
“This belongs at Watkins Glen International. Scott and I had a moment just prior to walking in here, it’s so nice to see. It’s so great to walk around here and feel the electricity here. Can’t wait to do it again up in Watkins Glen, and like he said, it was just an awesome time working with Jay and the team, and we couldn’t be happier. In less than two weeks putting together a major motorsports deal? I’d like anybody to beat that. I wouldn’t want anybody to beat it, because Jay and I own it.”
Printup wanted to thank New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his efforts and help in supporting the event.
“First of all, I have to back up and thank our governor. Our governor was also instrumental, has been very supportive, the first governor in our recollection of owning that track to be instrumental in motorsports,” he said. “We all want our governors in every municipality to support us, but our governor already called this morning and said when can we do a driver gig, when can we do a PR thing. That’s huge, and I just called him this morning and he called back within an hour. His team called back within an hour. So that’s awesome.
“So we’re on the right track. It’s going to be a lot of fast promotions. We’re going to be putting the plan together quickly, and then we’ll get in market. That’s the key, and we’ll be out there.
“I think the opportunity that we have is — I know the opportunity that we have is we have a lot of racing. We have IMSA coming into June; our Cup drivers are coming in August. So our in-market advertising is there. We’re just going to continue the program all the way through — and I wouldn’t be surprised if the governor steps up and helps us do that. He’ll already do it with an appearance, but we’ll see what else he can do in helping us promote it.”
Printup also hailed why Labor Day weekend is likely to be a better weekend compared to the previous fourth of July weekend.
“That was tough. I was never a fan, though I wasn’t in charge when it came, of 4th of July. You have eight weeks to plan your family events, and everybody knows September — it just didn’t work,” he said.
“I definitely see that from a fan attendance and a corporate backing. September being the last weekend, kids are back in college, so we’ve got all that.
“This is going to be our first major race since IndyCar did it back in the mid-2000s, and then we have college back. So we have Cornell right up the street, we’ve got University of Buffalo. We’ve got some big schools, Rochester. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of students now that we can also integrate into the sport because they’re in school.
“So I think that’s another major marketing advantage that we’ve never had before with IndyCar or not exploited, so we’re going to exploit that, so I think September fits in just perfect with this date.”