Watkins Glen: F1’s rock and roll years

(CNN)For Formula One drivers, Watkins Glen International was always a little off the beaten track.

Tucked away in a tiny village on the southern tip of Seneca Lake in New York State, “The Glen,” as it is affectionately known, was a world away from F1’s ritzier race destinations of the 1960s and 1970s.


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While the likes of the Monaco GP is played out against a simmering, sultry Mediterranean backdrop, Watkins Glen offered a backdrop of Autumn’s “mellow fruitfulness.”
“It was in the Finger Lakes, it was upstate New York, it was the fall — so the glorious colors were all out … it was a nice circuit, but it was rural America in the fullest sense and unlike all the places we would be traveling to, be it Monza (Italian Grand Prix) or Brazil,” three-time F1 world champion Jackie Stewart told CNN.
But what it lacked in glamor, it more than made up for in charm.


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“It was probably the most nostalgic US Grand Prix that Formula One ever had,” added Stewart.


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With its trademark climb to the first corner, sweeping corners that echo F1’s European heritage and off-track entertainment Taylor Swift tops the bill this year the Circuit Of The Americas has helped F1 gain a foothold in a country where IndyCar and NASCAR fuel the obsession for motorsport.
A thrilling race last year saw Lewis Hamilton equal Stewart’s total of three world titles and his public profile off the track in the US has helped boost revenues in Austin.
“We’ve probably had a $3 billion impact on the local economy,” Bobby Epstein, chairman of the Circuit of the Americas, told CNN.
“And for all of us who got behind the project, that’s what we were hoping to see.”

‘F1 needs the US’

F1 has led a rather peripatetic existence in the past but looks to have found a more permanent home in Austin — the Circuit Of The Americas is the first purpose-built F1 track in the US. But could Watkins Glen make a comeback?
Charlie Whiting, F1’s race director, gave the circuit an enthusiastic thumbs up when he paid a visit earlier this year.
“There are newer ones like the Circuit of the Americas, but it hasn’t got the character this has,” Whiting said, autosport.com reported in March.
“I think it would be an absolutely wonderful circuit for Formula 1 cars to race on, but we all know it’s not quite as simple as that.”
Whatever road F1 chooses to go down in the future, Stewart is adamant that the US needs to feature heavily.
“Formula One needs the United States — a huge car market … If we just got 10% of the 300 million population, that’s a huge audience.”

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/21/motorsport/watkins-glen-formula-one-united-states-jackie-stewart/index.html

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