Q&A: Watkins Glen Int’l President Michael Printup

Steven Ovens Cup, Featured, Northeast 0 Comments

Race Chaser Online: Is there anything in development or in-progress that fans can look forward to in the future? 

Michael Printup: We put together a five-year strategic plan, so every year we are able to make things a little fresher.  This includes a capital project wish list and we already have been approved to build another fan deck for next season.  We’re the only track in the country out of the twenty-three NASCAR tracks that is expanding.  We’ve gone the route of fan decks instead of grandstands because the fan decks can be interactive.  You can sit underneath the covered area out of the sun, you can enjoy food and beverage and all kind of experiences there.  

We also have projects on the wishlist in the range of $5 million to $20 million that include new garages and a lot of maintenance around the facility, including roads that we want to pave outside the facility.

Race Chaser Online: Any time we come to the The Glen, the question always comes up about running “The Boot” portion of the course. From your perspective, is this feasible?

Michael Printup: It is feasible and NASCAR has run computer simulations for us to make sure. We’re going to continually take a look at that. Last year we put a push on that, which is what prompted NASCAR to run the simulations for us and we want to take a good hard look at that. You do have to be careful in how far you expand quickly, that’s always in the back of our mind. I think there will be a day, and I hope I’m still here, when we race ‘The Boot.’

There is driver support for it on the Cup side, there’s a lot of them that want to do it. There are some tight turns that make people nervous. The ‘ankle’ of the Boot would be a pretty tight left hander that throws you off-camber even though the corner is camber-positive. To answer your question, I think we will see it; I just don’t know when.

Race Chaser Online: Fans have called for a road course race in the Playoffs. Would weather be a major concern to try and run at WGI in September when the Playoffs begin? Or is it more than just a weather concern that makes putting WGI in the Playoffs a concern?

Michael Printup: I’ve been asked by a lot of people, including my big boss in the company. Would I be willing to consider putting our race in the Playoffs?  I was very quick in saying no. Even if we were the first race in the Playoffs in September, we still have great weather here so that wouldn’t be a concern.  

My biggest objection right now is that I have no desire to go up against the NFL on a Sunday. I think you would pull in attendance, but now you’re camping would be in severe question. We camp so many people, but it’s Summer time when kids are out of school and mom and dad are on vacation. Now you put kids back in school and you’re not going to have it.  I don’t think we should take that risk is what I told the big boss of the company and is what I say to fans that ask me. When I lay it out like that with cold nights camping, families not being on a Summer break and trying to go up against the NFL for TV ratings, you’re asking for trouble if you ask me.


About the Writer

steveSteven Ovens is the Northeast Dirt Correspondent for Race Chaser Online and the creator and host of the Turn 5 Live dirt track racing radio show, airing at 7:30 p.m. Eastern every Tuesday on the Performance Motorsports Network.

Ovens has spent his lifetime in the sport of dirt track racing, growing up in the garages of the Kerrick and Ovens families. He spent 11 years behind the wheel between go-karts and 4 Cylinder Mini Stocks which brings a unique perspective to his dirt track editorials.

The 31-year-old has a career in the growing health care business world, and is also entering his second season as the full-time announcer and media director for Woodhull Raceway in Woodhull, N.Y.

In addition, Ovens was formerly the announcer and media director for Outlaw Speedway (formerly Black Rock Speedway) in Dundee, N.Y., serving in that capacity in both 2015 and 2016.

Email Steve at: [email protected]

Follow on Twitter: @StevenOvens

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