As the president of Watkins Glen International, Hamburg native Michael Printup has spent many days at his desk charting the course of the fabled road course’s operations. Last Monday, Printup celebrated the fifth anniversary of his arrival as president at The Glen by stepping away from his office for a day.
As part of a promotional event highlighting the upcoming Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen Weekend, Printup drove an electric kart at the Pole Position Raceway at the Walden Galleria Mall against members of the Watkins Glen staff, Western New York Flash women’s soccer club players and management, along with area media and local businessman/racer Joe Sahlen.
Monday’s event was a cross promotion to bring awareness to the Pole Position Raceway, the Western New York Flash and most especially the upcoming Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen Weekend which runs June 26-29.
Printup ended up driving to victory in the feature race Monday over Western New York Flash intern Mallory Eberhardt and Sahlen. Pole Position Raceway is a 46,000 square foot indoor karting facility.
The karts reached speeds on the Euro-style road course Monday of up to 45 miles per hour giving all involved a taste of what real racing is like.
“It’s great being here at Pole Position Raceway and having the Sahlen’s group here,” said Printup in Victory Lane.
“Today’s my fifth anniversary at The Glen and I won this race. So what the heck. Tomorrow it’s back to the office.”
This year’s edition of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen features the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, which is a merger of the former Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series.
Four classes comprise the TUDOR including, Prototypes, Prototype Challenge, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona that will compete at The Glen.
Also more support sports car divisions then in past years will host their own races during the Sahlen’s weekend to complement the TUDOR activity including the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the Porsche GT3-Cup USA, the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites and the Lamborghini Super Trofeo. It will make for a very busy weekend.
The Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen is part of the four race Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, which also includes the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
“Our upcoming Sahlen’s weekend is looking to be a fantastic one,” said Printup. “We’re up about 67 percent so far in ticket sales so that’s always a great indicator.
“The merger between the ALMS and Grand-Am forming the TUDOR series with IMSA is great and we’re real proud to be part of the Tequila Patron road course championship which makes it a race within the race.”
Printup also commented about the expanded lineup of other sports cars groups in this year’s Sahlen’s event. “There will be so many sports cars here that we’ve had a hard time planning for parking spots for some people so we’ve actually changed things in the infield.”
Sahlen, of Elma, and his two-car Team Sahlen entry will compete in the Continental Tire Street Tuner division. The lead No. 42 Porsche Cayman will be co-driven by brothers Wayne and Will Nonnamaker, while the No. 43 machine will feature their father, Joe Nonnamaker and Sahlen behind the wheel. The Nonnamaker family hails from North Canton, Ohio.
While the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen will run on June 29 starting at 11 a.m., the Continental Tire 150 minute contest that Team Sahlen will participate in will be held June 28 at 11:30 a.m.
Wayne and Will nearly won the last Continental Tire event on June 7 at Kansas Speedway, placing a very close second with Wayne behind the wheel in the final stint. Wayne and Will are currently eighth in Street Tuner division points.
“Our event at The Glen is a little over a week away and Team Sahlen is getting ready for the Continental race,” said Sahlen. “It promises to be one of the best if not the best Sahlen’s six hours on record with the combination of the American Le Mans and the Grand-Am series. So it’s a tremendous field with tremendous interest.
“It’s been a learning curve switching from the DP’s (Daytona Prototypes) in 2013 to the Porsche Caymans this year but it’s very competitive and we’re learning along with our engineer Catherine Crawford, and we’re coming along. Wayne almost pulled off a victory last race at Kansas City.
“We’re very encouraged. We tested earlier this spring at The Glen — in the snow by the way. It gave us a lot of baseline setup work that we can utilize in the upcoming continental race.
Printup ultimately spent Monday savoring his five years at The Glen.
“I want to just keep promoting, particularly the sports car series,” said Printup. “It’s really special to me because that’s where I grew up going to The Glen. That trek from Hamburg, New York, to The Glen wasn’t very long going there as a kid and going there today I want to keep The Glen moving along. It’s been a lot of fun.
“Fortunately, the ownership company (International Speedway Corporation) stands tall behind capital investment, and I’ll just tell you that we’re fortunate enough to come up with a good plan with our team and develop a capital structure that put a lot of investment into the track and we continue to do so. It’s hard to believe I’ve been at The Glen five years already.”