Green Grand Prix opens WGI season

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Tom Megan of Redwood, NY, will return again to compete in the 2011 Green Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, in his 1965 Porsche 356SC that runs on bio-diesel.

Watkins Glen International has played host to some of the most technically advanced and finely tuned racing machines ever created, and this April, it will add vehicles designed for efficiency and sustainability to that extensive list.

The Seventh annual Green Grand Prix, which features alternative-fueled vehicles, hybrids, and traditional gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles, is moving from the roads in and around Watkins Glen to the legendary road course on Friday, April 15.

Not only does this event provide a great opportunity to promote the growth of clean and sustainable innovation in the Northeast, but it will also act will act as the kick-off for The Glen’s traditional Opening Weekend, April 16-17.

“As the chairperson of the Green Initiative Committee for our parent company, International Speedway Corporation, I am thrilled that we are hosting this great event,” said Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen International. “The Glen has made a strong commitment to being green with initiatives such as our extensive recycling program, so it only makes sense to host the Green Grand Prix which promotes and displays alternative-fueled vehicles. This is a great way to kick-off our Opening Weekend before fans hit our famous twists and turns in their own vehicles on Saturday and Sunday,”  he added.

“The Green Grand Prix Committee is proud to be partnering with WGI for this exciting event geared towards efficiency and sustainability. It’s a showcase of technology that points towards a cleaner environment,” said Robert Gillespie, Chairman of the Green Grand Prix Committee.  “This year’s rallies will offer competitors the opportunity to establish fuel economy records in various categories on this world famous racing venue.”

Drivers of vehicles of all fuel types are invited to enter one of two fuel economy events that will be run on the WGI 2.45-mile short course. The time-speed-distance rallies, listing 10 classes of cars, will be organized and sponsored by the Glen Region of the Sports Car Club of America.

Gillespie says people driving any fuel type vehicle can register online.

The daylong event, for which admission will be free, also will feature a NY Electrathon race in the afternoon. Displays about sustainable energy and the environment will be set up through the day, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The on-track road rallies are open to anyone, and organizers expect vehicles including all hybrid models, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell cars and vehicles running on biodiesel, diesel, flex-fuel and pure electric. Organizers also expect many other interesting alternate-fueled vehicles such as those powered by vegetable oil, as well as by LP and compressed natural gas.

Universities and high schools with automobile technology programs are encouraged to bring their project cars.

All Green Grand Prix activities are designed to bring together a diverse mix of vehicles and their owners, businesses promoting renewable energy and related products, environmental groups, students and faculty members from elementary to university level and the general public.  Entries in the rallies may be submitted through the Green Grand Prix website at www.greengrandprix.com.  

The Doris Bovee Memorial Road Rallies are the only official SCCA road rallies of their kind in the nation. Both rallies will be conducted at highway speeds over the challenging topography of the WGI track, which has hosted competitive racing events for since 1957.

The rallies honor the memory of well-known area environmentalist Doris Bovee, who taught for many years in the Corning-Painted Post school district and was known for her love of plants and birds. She also was involved with SCCA road rallies and was part of the Glen Region SCCA at its inception.

Fans attending Opening Weekend at Watkins Glen International, April 16 or 17, will not only have the opportunity tosupport Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  

Opening Day at Watkins Glen International has traditionally been the day fans can drive the historic road course to celebrate the opening of a new season.  

This will be the second year in a row the event is expanded to run a full two days.

During Opening Weekend fans will get to drive three laps around the same turns as many legends of motorsports for only $25 per vehicle.  Tickets will be available at the gate during the event.  Gates will open each day at 9 a.m. with laps starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m.