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Watkins Glen’s Cup Runneth over with Jam-Packed Paddock

Nearly 200 Cars Are Entered for This Weekend’s Races in Five IMSA-Sanctioned Series

By Jeff Olson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A month ago, Michael Printup tried to find hotel rooms in Watkins Glen, New York, for family members attending this weekend’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. He couldn’t find any.

“I told my brother that he was going to have to drive 25 miles,” Printup said with a laugh.

When you’re the president of Watkins Glen International, sold-out hotels are always a sign of success. So, too, are healthy car counts.

Just two years after racing at the iconic WGI circuit was halted because of COVID-19, a huge field of entries is expected for the activities surrounding the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. The total car count has approached 200 for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event and four IMSA-sanctioned support series, with 49 expected for Sunday’s featured six-hour race.

“It’s got to be close to a record for all of them because we’re running out of asphalt to park them,” Printup said. “I’m not going to complain for one minute. It’s exciting. I don’t know what else to say when you have that many cars and the fans get to see that kind of a car count. The health of this series is incredible.”

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Aside from the 49 cars expected – the most for a WeatherTech Championship event at Watkins Glen since 2014 – the support races have attracted record numbers, as well. The Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America doubleheader race weekend has drawn 38 entries, seven more than its best car count for a round in the series’ 10-year history.

All good news for the guy whose job is putting people in the stands. WGI’s economic impact on the area is estimated to be $220 million annually. That number might need an update after the weekend.

“I bet if we measured this year alone – just because of what’s happening here with IMSA – we’d beat that number by millions,” Printup said. “The economic trickle effect from this is difficult to measure, but it’s fantastic.”

Numbers for other support series also impress. The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race has drawn 44 cars, with 34 expected in the Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands races and 29 in the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires doubleheader. That adds up to 194 cars entered who’ll compete in a total of eight races.

It’s a long way from 2020, when much of the racing season was lost to the pandemic. Or 2021, when events resumed with restrictions on attendance.

“It’s been a challenge, but everybody has been so strong,” Printup said. “People are hellbent on moving forward. We’re not looking behind us anymore. I don’t think anybody is. This is pedal to the metal right now.”

Action begins Thursday at the historic 3.4-mile road course with practices for the four support series. WeatherTech Championship practice takes place Friday, along with support series qualifying and the first weekend races for the Lamborghini, Porsche and Mazda single-make series.

Saturday’s full docket features WeatherTech Championship practice and qualifying, the final races for the Lamborghini, Porsche and Mazda series, and the Michelin Pilot Challenge two-hour race, the Tioga Downs Casino Resort 120.

The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen caps off the weekend on Sunday. The six-hour race begins at 10:40 a.m. ET, with flag-to-flag coverage on Peacock in the U.S. and IMSA.com/TVLive elsewhere. USA Network picks up live coverage at 2 p.m. and continues through the race finish.

Tickets remain available for this jam-packed weekend of sports car racing action at TheGlen.com.