It was here, after World War II, in the village of Watkins Glen, that Cornell University Law student and auto-racing enthusiast Cameron Argetsinger envisioned an extravagant European style car race in the heart of Schuyler County. During the war, the rationing of gas and rubber had virtually put a stop to car racing in America, but with the end of the war, Argetsinger saw the opportunity to turn his vision into a reality.
On October 2nd 1948, the very first Watkins Glen Grand Prix ran through these very streets and over the next five years the race drew crowds as large as 200 thousand spectators. In 1952, a tragic accident prompted the race to move from the village streets to a permanent raceway that eventually opened in 1956. In 1961, Formula 1 racing came to the Glen and continued here until 1980.
Today, more than 60 years since that first race, Watkins Glen International remains an important stop along the NASCAR racing circuit and also an essential stop along New York’s Path Through History.
Photos Courtesy of:
International Motor Racing Research Library