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  • Writer's pictureChris Brewster

WGI President Excited to Welcome Everyone Back

When you say someone wears their heart on their sleeve, it means they show how they feel rather than keeping them hidden.

It’s fair to say that Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup fits that description when talking about both the return of NASCAR to the track in 2021 and missing out on the race and its festivities in 2020.

“Obviously it’s a great feeling,” said Printup, track president at WGI since 2009, “because honestly, last year was borderline depressing.”

WGI, perennially one of the most popular venues for both fans and drivers, hosts four races starting Friday, Aug. 4, and culminating in the NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling at the Glen on Sunday, Aug. 6.

That race marks the return of NASCAR’s biggest series, and the key word for Printup is excited.

“Our team’s excited, the fans are excited, everyone’s ready,” he said. “We’re working with a short window – usually these take 6-8 months – but our team feels excited.

“When you talk to the drivers, owners, corporate sponsors every year, they can’t wait to get to Watkins Glen. We always hear the same things – it’s so pretty, the track’s great, the fans are great. Everybody missed that last year, so the resounding statement is that they can’t wait.”

The short turnaround time from the announcement by New York State allowing full attendance has accelerated the timetable, which has been felt more in one area than the others.

“The hardest part has been recruiting help,” Printup said. “Staffing has been going through a very difficult period, and that’s everywhere. It’s been that way since January, and we just didn’t have a long enough runway to recruit.

The solution: Bringing in outside help. Printup said workers will be bussed in from as far as New York City and Buffalo, to make sure everyone in attendance – from fans to corporate sponsors – gets the experience they’ve come to expect at WGI.

“The important thing is that we are not going to short-change the fans,” Printup said. “We’re not going to have 100% of the revenue but you’re not going to notice a difference.

“We know we were missed but we missed the fans just as bad. Our mantra is welcome back, not just to the fans but the media and corporate sponsors.”

Unlike many of the regional tourism destinations, the pandemic and recovery has not forced WGI to condense its marketing circle to a more local one.

“We’re actually in the opposite situation,” Printup explained. “Our circle is four hours and out. Those are the people looking for something new and exciting. Our locals are great and Canada’s open now so we won’t lose them, which we’re excited about.

“But our fans in New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, they’re our big players here. We know they’re itching to get back.”

When asked what he’s most excited about, Printup didn’t hestitate.

“For me, No. 1 is that I love getting out with the fans,” he said. “We do free coffee and donuts for the campers on Friday morning, and I just can’t wait to get out there. That’s when I know we’re back.”

It’s that love for the fans, and theirs for the track in return, that makes a race weekend at WGI special, according to Printup.

“I always say, and I’m a true believer, that our community is our neighbors and our neighbors make up the community,” he said. “This is a place to be, where you want to visit and hang your hat.

“It just doesn’t get any better than this - this is one great neighborhood, and we’re welcoming you back.”

Weekend racing schedule

Friday, Aug. 6 – Clean Harbors 100 at the Glen ARCA Menards Series race, 6 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 7 – United Rentals 176 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, 12:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 7 – NASCAR Xfinity Series race, 4 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 8 – Go Bowling at the Glen NASCAR Cup Series race, 3 p.m.



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