Barnes: Return of Watkins Glen just what IndyCar needed

By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief

IndyCar officially announced its return to Watkins Glen this afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a last minute add-on to the schedule following the loss of the Grand Prix of Boston.

There were several reasons that Boston never got off the ground despite a lot of built up anticipation for the Labor Day Weekend street course event, but instead of looking at the negative of losing a race, the focus should shift on the positive.

Watkins Glen has been a historical playground for many series over the years and has the prestige and resources the fit exactly what IndyCar needs. The series raced at the 3.4-mile road course from 1979-81 and 2005-10, pre DW12/aero kit days.

Factor in the new aero kits pushing speeds to the limit and smashing track records on road courses, along with a recent repave of Watkins Glen’s track surface, and you have what is sure to be a fast-paced, intense show for the fans.

The track isn’t shy from post race incidents either.

The 2007 edition saw Tony Kanaan and Sam Hornish in what became a brawl between team members and a yelling match between drivers. The year prior, Eddie Cheever pushed rookie Marco Andretti off track and crashing into the guardrail, leading to the famous Andretti shake of the fist, while Cheever later responded with a smile and a thumbs-up.

One of the biggest things noted about Boston by Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles was the attraction for a new market in the Northeast to attract a new fan base.

Considering the location of Watkins Glen in Upstate New York, IndyCar still gets a track in the Northeast market, while finding a home on a permanent road course versus that of a temporary street circuit.

Great street circuits like Long Beach and Toronto are tough to come by, even Formula One keeps a limited number on its calendar with races at Monaco and Singapore.

In many ways, IndyCar elevated itself with a huge upgrade.

The season has seen a return of legendary open wheel tracks such as Phoenix and Road America, and with Watkins Glen now joining the list, the schedule has now built a lot of depth as the series prepares for the 100th Indianapolis 500 in a pivotal milestone year.

The ability to make a one-race deal with a premier circuit just a few weeks after the Boston deal fell apart is a move by IndyCar that should be applauded.

Watkins Glen checks off every box any race fan could want in a circuit and clearly shows that the IndyCar Series is doing everything they can to push forward and give everyone the best product possible.

Image: Ron McQueeney/INDYCAR

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Joey Barnes is the Founder of Motorsports Tribune. He has covered auto racing since 2013 that has spanned from Formula 1 to NASCAR, with coverage on IndyCar. Additionally, his work has appeared on Racer, and Autoweek magazine. In 2017, he was recognized with an award in Spot News Writing by the National Motorsports Press Association.

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