WHAT Six-hour sports car races
WHERE Watkins Glen
WHEN The World Championship years, 1968-’ 81
n some ways, you could argue that
sports car fans in America have never
had it so good. For 2014, U.S. sports car
racing’s factions unified to form IMSA’s
TUDOR United SportsCar Championship,
clarifying the scene and bringing many of
the best teams and drivers together.
That’s had the welcome effect of putting
three classic U.S. enduros – the Rolex 24
at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and
Petit Le Mans – all on the same schedule.
Plus, we also get to enjoy two six-hour
races on American soil – the TUDOR
Championship at Watkins Glen, N. Y., and
the hi-tech, high-powered prototypes of
the FIA World Endurance Championship
at Circuit of The Americas. Good times.
As last year, both series share the bill
at the Austin, Texas, track in what’s been
dubbed Lone Star Le Mans weekend. This
time around, the added bonus is that
they’ll race on the same day, Sept. 20.
The irony is that the WEC’s six-hour race
in Texas is the spiritual successor to the
Six Hours of The Glen which, from 1968
until 1981, was the American round of
the World Sportscar Championship in its
various guises. After Ford won the initial
512M leads at the
start of the ’ 71 Six
Hours of the Glen,
but it would be the
Alfa Romeo of Ronnie
Peterson and Andrea
de Adamich that
The Jacky Ickx/Lucien Bianchi-driven Ford
GT40 run by John Wyer Automotive was the
inaugural winner at the Six Hours of The Glen.
Thirteen years later, WGI held its final World
Sportscar round, Michele Alboreto and Riccardo
Patrese winning in a Lancia Beta Montecarlo.
event, the race became the happy hunting
ground for legendary marques from the
other side of the Atlantic – Porsche
(inevitably), Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Matra and
Lancia all went to Victory Lane at The Glen.
Watkins Glen’s bankruptcy saw Formula 1
make its final visit in 1980 and, inevitably,
the WSC followed suit a year later. With no
U.S. replacement, the closest Group C got to
these shores was Canada and Mexico – not
that American fans missed out, thanks to
IMSA’s own spectacular breed of GTP cars.
When the Six Hours returned to The Glen
in 1984, it was as part of the IMSA GT
Championship...and it wasn’t really six hours,
as IMSA regularly tweaked the format of
what was now called the Camel Continental.
Again, some magnificent machinery won
there – Porsche, Nissan, Eagle-Toyota,
Ferrari and Riley & Scott – but it wasn’t until
’ 96 that it returned to its six-hour format.
Since then, The Six Hours of The Glen has
run under the auspices of the United States
Road Racing Championship, Grand-Am and
now the TUDOR Championship. But, as
noted, the true spiritual descendant of the
original event will be racing 1,500 miles