NASCAR: Watkins Glen gets sponsor for race
By John Kekis
Associated PressWATKINS GLEN, N.Y. ó Craig Rust had good reason to smile as he spoke. Having a title sponsor for Watkins Glen International’s signature NASCAR race is a good thing no matter how you say it.
“Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen, it’s a mouthful and I’ve already gotten the joke,” said Rust, the track’s president. “But that’s OK as long as the partner gets in there and finds value in it. It’s good to have fun with it, too. It’s a race. It’s a NASCAR race. I hope we have it good for a hell of a lot more years.”
Despite having to scramble for a new title sponsor for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup race after Centurion Boats pulled out of 2009 for financial reasons, the historic road course is holding its own. Terms were not released when Heluva Good!, headquartered in Sodus, N.Y., signed a one-year deal with the track in March, but the value of a Sprint Cup title sponsorship can exceed $1 million.
Rust said reserved camping for the weekend of the NASCAR race in early August is sold out, track rent is also booked for the season and on opening day in April nearly 1,000 motorists ó a track record ó paid $20 apiece to take three laps around the twisting course made famous by some of the greatest drivers in history: Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Bruce McLaren, Graham Hill, Mario Andretti, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart, to name a few.
“We’re a tourist-related area, and where we might lose people from farther outside the state coming in, New Yorkers might look in their own back yard,” Rust said. “Hopefully, we’ll be OK.”
NASCAR has raced annually at Watkins Glen since 1986, continuing the road-racing tradition that began in 1948 and made the area a motor sports mecca. Formula One raced at The Glen for two decades, and the U.S. Grand Prix became a fall tradition until financial difficulties led to its demise after the 1980 race.