“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Watkins Glen in Schuyler County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

The Original Watkins Glen Circuit


The Original Watkins Glen Circuit Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 12, 2014
1. The Original Watkins Glen Circuit Marker
Inscription. On this spot the green flag dropped for twenty-three sports cars to start the first road race in the United States after World War II. It was October 2, a beautiful, crisp Saturday in 1948. The event, sanctioned by the Sports Car Club, of America, (SCCA) sponsored by the village of Watkins Glen and attended by an estimated 5,000 spectators, marked the beginning of a racing era at Watkins Glen, and throughout the country. It was the first closed- circuit race in this country following WW II to be run on public roads. The 6.6 mile course started at this spot with a quarter-mile straight on Franklin Street, turned sharp right on Old Corning Hill Road, with a steep climb to the White House esses, across a plateau to School House Corner, then a rapid descent to Cornett’s Stone Bridge, up again over serpentine oiled gravel to a sharp right at Archie Smith’s dirt surfaced corner, down a slightly bent, fast straight to the railroad crossing, where the New York Central held up trains for the races, leading to a mile long descent into the village ’round a long sweeping right hand bend on cement—then macadam, climaxed by an abrupt 25 mph left, a split second straight with a hard right onto Franklin Street back past the start/finish line.

At the end of four laps, fifteen cars qualified for the main event which
Detail from Marker image. Click for full size.
2. Detail from Marker
Click on image to zoom in
ran eight laps. Eleven cars finished the race.

In 1952, the last year the circuit was used, there were more than one hundred entrants!

The course may be toured today over the same roads marked with signs identifying the special features of the circuit.

Starting Grid for the 1948 Race
CLASS A: Less than 1.5 Litres Engine Displacement
Car No. 2 • MGTC Supercharged • Cameron R. Argetsinger, Youngstown, Oh.
Car No. 3 • MGTC • Dean Bedford, Jr., Fullston, Mo.
Car No. 7 • MGTC • Denver Cornett, Jr., Louisville, Ky.
Car No. 14 • MGTC • William F. Gallagher, Falmouth, Ma.
Car No. 20 • MG J4 Midget • I. Otto Linton, Philadelphia, Pa.
Car No. 29 • MGTC • Philip H. Stiles, York, Pa.

CLASS B: 1.5 to 3.0 Litres Engine Displacement
Car No. 4 • Jaguar SS-1 • George F Boardman, Hartford, Ct.
Car No. 5 • B.N.C. — • George C. Caswell, Haverford, Pa.
Car No. 25 • MGTC Supercharged • Miles Collier, Everglades, Fl.
Car No. 24 • MGTC Supercharged • Sam Collier, Everglades, Fl.
Car No. 16 • Bugatti 35A GP • Robert B. Gegen, Miami, Fl.
Car No. 35 • Alfa-Romeo 8C 2900 • Frank T. Griswold, Jr., Wayne, Pa. ← Finished 1st
Car No. 17 • Alfa-Romeo • George S. Hendrie, Detroit, Mi.
Car No. 8 • MG Supercharged • Haig Ksayian, Lambertville, NJ.
Watkins Glen Circuit Markers image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 12, 2014
3. Watkins Glen Circuit Markers
No. 21 • Bugatti 35A • William F Milliken, Jr. ,Buffalo, NY.

CLASS C: 3.0 to 4.5 Litres Engine Displacement
Car No. 33 • Duesenberg • J. J. Brundage, Miami, Fl.
Car No. 12 • Vauxhall 30/98 • Col. George E. Felton, Boston, Ma.
Car No. 18 • Merlin • Kenneth F. Hill, Wayne, Pa.
Car No. 31 • GP Maserati • George B. Weaver, Boston, Ma.
Car No. 32 • Stutz BB • Dudley Wilson, Philadelphia, Pa.

CLASS D: More than 4.5 Litres Engine Displacement
Car No. 1 • Mercedes Benz S • Charles Addams. New York, NY.
Car No. 9 • Bu-Merc • Briggs S. Cunningham. Green Farms, Ct. ← Finished 2nd
Car No. 30 • Lagonda Rapide • E. M. Vaughn, Austell, Ga.
Erected by the Village of Watkins Glen, Watkins Glen International, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Location. 42° 22.6′ N, 76° 52.289′ W. Marker is in Watkins Glen, New York, in Schuyler County. Marker is on Franklin Street (New York State Route 14) just north of 10th Street, on the left when traveling north. Click for map. It is across from the courthouse. Marker is in this post office area: Watkins Glen NY 14891, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the
Watkins Glen Circuit Starting Line Monument image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 12, 2014
4. Watkins Glen Circuit Starting Line Monument
crow flies. The Present Watkins Glen Circuit (here, next to this marker); At Watkins Glen (here, next to this marker); Watkins Glen State Park (approx. 0.2 miles away); Honoring Our Naval Veterans (approx. half a mile away); James A. Shepard (approx. 2.4 miles away); Catherine's Landing (approx. 2.4 miles away); She-Qua-Ga (approx. 2.4 miles away); Saw Mill Creek (approx. 2.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Watkins Glen.
Also see . . .
1. Watkins Glen Grand Prix | Path Through History | WSKG. (1½ min. video embedded below)
It was here, after World War II, in the village of Watkins Glen, that Cornell University Law student and auto-racing enthusiast Cameron Argetsinger envisioned an extravagant European style car race in the heart of Schuyler County. During the war, the rationing of gas and rubber had virtually put a stop to car racing in America, but with the end of the war, Argetsinger saw the opportunity to turn his vision into a reality.

On October 2nd 1948, the very first Watkins Glen Grand Prix ran through these very streets and over the next five years the race drew crowds as large as 200 thousand spectators. In 1952, a tragic accident prompted the race to move from the village streets to a permanent raceway that eventually opened in 1956. In 1961, Formula 1 racing came to the Glen and continued here until 1980.

Today, more than 60 years since that first race, Watkins Glen International remains an important stop along the NASCAR racing circuit and also an essential stop along New York's Path Through History.
(Submitted on January 1, 2015.) 

2. Watkins Glen Grand Prix 1952 Color Footage (five minutes). This was the last year the original circuit was used.
(Submitted on January 1, 2015.) 
Categories. Roads & VehiclesSports
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 294 times since then and 158 times this year. This page was the Marker of the Week Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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