HPDE at Watkins Glen – July 1, 2015



Watkins Glen International Race Track has always been a special place for Lotus. It was at The Glen in 1961 that Formula 1 pilot and LOG 7 speaker Innes Ireland won the first Grand Prix for Team Lotus. All of the famous Lotus drivers have at one time or another drove around the “boot” at the Glen. The course has so much history that it is truly a pleasure to have The Glen as the location for our 2nd annual High Performance Advanced Driver Education Day.

Everyone was excited the night before at the reception provided by the Corning Radisson Hotel. All we could talk about was the track, the cars and of course, the weather.

The weather had been touch and go all week long. It had been a rather wet June and the forecast was for a 60% chance of rain on Wednesday. So we all went to bed that night, not really knowing what the day would bring tomorrow.

A day at the track starts EARLY. We have to be at the track by 6:30 AM as that is when Gate 2 opens and the many car owners start to show up.

The track goes “live” at 8 AM so there is lots to do before that happens. Cars need to be teched. Driver and Instructor meetings need to be held and a last talk on the function of all the flags and safety issues that all drivers need to be aware of. Then there the call for the first session drivers to get in their cars and line up to be released on to the track.

The day’s first sessions in the morning went absolutely to plan with the threat of rain holding off till lunch time. Yes, it poured on the track during our lunch at The Glen Club, which was great for the drivers of the Advanced Driving Day but not so great for our participants of the Laps and Lunch event that is held in conjunction with our day here at The Glen. Yes, the Laps and Lunch crowd got rained on, and it continued to rain into the first session in the afternoon.

As quickly as the rain started, the rain stopped, the clouds broke to a beautiful blue sky and within 20 minutes of the start of first afternoon session the drivers were back on the track trying to establish a “dry” line. This did not take long and the cars were back up to speed within the ½ hour.

The rest of the afternoon sessions went as planned without rain. The Glen personnel were very pleased with our professionalism, our politeness and our concern for the safety of all the drivers, instructors and crew. They are looking forward to having us back again next year.

Please join us for an upcoming Advanced Driving Day. Perhaps next year at The Glen or one of the other events we are planning in conjunction with our arrangement with the Mercedes-Benz Club of America.

I would like to take this moment to thank all of the people that helped to make this day a success. They include Rachel, Chris, Alexe, Barb, Mary Alice, Fred, Dorothy, Bob H, Judy, Kerri, Dave, Brian C, Fred, Lee, Katie, Atwell, Frank and Bob M. (last names are withheld as I did not ask permission to use your name. You know who you are! and I know I am missing someone, I apologize for that!)

There are four more people I would like to thank who are just the best bunch of Lotus crazies to work with. David Nagler. I like to say that I handle the front end and David handles the back end, but it is more than that. David handles all the driver assignments, instructor evaluations and session planning.

Jim Roberts is the head of our Driving Events and is the liaison with the MBCA. Jim handles all those arrangements as well as being the final word on safety equipment, eligibility of cars and instructor evaluation.

Brian Vaccaro, and Sandy Nagler are my right and left hands on the day of the event, handling logistics, event registration, driver notification, and just about anything that needs to be done that day.

Lastly I would like to thank Ernie Fancy, Bob Handzo and Judy Handzo and the whole Mercedes-Benz Club of America for joining Lotus Ltd in our ongoing effort to bring you Great Driving Days at the wonderful and historic race tracks of North America!

We hope to see you next year for our High Performance Advanced Driver Education Day. Also remember that if you do not want to do the whole “day”, we also hold a Laps that Lunch on the track that gives you 3 laps behind a pace car and then lunch in the Glen Club. You can also just come and spectate. The Finger Lakes region of New York State is just a wonderful place to spend some great Summer Time.

Lotus Ltd is always thinking of new ways to extend your membership value. Please join us next year at Watkins Glen. We would love to have you come out and spend some time with us at The Glen!

Tony Vaccaro

(Picture courtesy, and rights of, Jeff Kyle)