In his long career behind the wheel of various racing vehicles Scott Pruett has driven around the road course at Watkins Glen International, he does not recall ever having raced there in a taxi cab. If he did, however, it would not be all that surprising because he has raced just about everything else you can race at the Finger Lakes facility.
Pruett again back at The Glen last week with his new Lexus 3GT Racing sports car team testing and putting their machine through its paces in preparation for the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen Weekend, June 29-July 2.
Pruett, 57, and co-driver Sage Karem, drive the Lexus in the GTD class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This is Lexus's first year in GTD and Pruett has been very busy this season utilizing his vast knowledge and experience helping it get its racing program up to speed.
The many racing organizations Pruett has driven for in at The Glen include IMSA, Grand-Am, NASCAR, CART and SCCA Trans-Am. He has authored numerous race wins and championships throughout his career.
"When you have a chance to drive at a great race track like Watkins Glen -- and you can ask any driver -- you don't care what you drive here -- taxi cabs, school buses, whatever it is, you do it," said Pruett of Roseville, Calf.
"It has been a lot of different cars. The good Lord's blessed me with this incredible career. This is an incredible race track that's fun to drive in the dry and the wet. I've won here in both the dry and the wet. But to put some sort of idea together, between Trans-Am and IMSA and Grand-Am and the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, all the different divisions that I've raced here and I know I'm leaving out quite a few it's been one of those places that I love. I love coming here."
Pruett tried hard to recall his first-ever race at The Glen many years ago.
"I don't actually remember my first race ever here," said Pruett. "I'm going to say it was probably 1984 or 1985, and the chances are it was in a Mazda RX-7. However I know I was here in 1986 with Ford with Bruce Jenner and we won the SCCA Trans-Am championship that year."
All those races over all those years have produced a litany of Watkins Glen memories that stand out among the many.
"God, I have so many great memories and certainly on the sports car side the year I started the Six Hour last and won the race was incredible," said Pruett. "One year on the NASCAR Cup side I also started last and finished fourth here. Just being in Victory Lane here so many times is great. I'm not sure how many times I've won the Six Hour but it's been quite a few and all in their own right are as sweet as the others.
The Lexus team has gone through growing pains but Pruett feels that things are beginning to come together. They are currently 17th in GTD points having recorded GTD class finishes of 27th at Daytona, 8th at Sebring, 6th at Long Beach, and 9th in Austin, Texas. Pruett suffered an early race accident at Daytona.
"It's good," said Pruett. "Everyone wants more. The reality is that everything takes time. You have to have the patience and understanding knowing that, especially since this is Lexus's very first time going racing with a GT3 car, they don't have any past reference point. That's different from so many of the other manufactures that have been in it for so many years. They all built on their previous generation cars. So it just makes our learning curve that much steeper.
"But we're working hard, and at Long Beach we had our best finish so far, and at Austin a few weeks ago we had our best qualifying effort so far, seventh. So, we're making progress. Hopefully it will show at the Sahlen's Six Hour."
PRINTUP READY FOR BIG ANNOUNCEMENT
Hamburg native and Watkins Glen president Michael Printup says that his organization is close to making a major announcement of a new race entitlement sponsor for this August's NASCAR Cup Series visit.
From 2013-2016, the NASCAR Cup Series stop at The Glen was named the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen but following last year's event, Kellogg's Corporation, the makers of the Cheez-It product, decided not to return. The search for a replacement sponsor has been ongoing ever since.
"We're getting pretty darn close and we hope to announce something here for the NASCAR Cup Series race sponsorship within the next two weeks." said Printup.
Printup says that he also has been busy tracking ticket sales for the upcoming IndyCar Series race Labor Day Weekend. This is the second straight season the IndyCar Series will be back at The Glen.
"It's been going awesome," Printup said in an appearance this past week in Buffalo involving IndyCar star Graham Rahal. Graham and I just sat in the car talking and he asked me the same question about fan response here.
"If the race was tomorrow, we'd be ready. Of course I want to sell more tickets but, like I told Graham, we have a very loyal base of fans here. We expect a banner crowd for IndyCar. I told Graham, we're not going to hit a grand slam but we'll go for a triple this year and go for the home run the year after. Hopefully in 2019 we can talk about a grand slam."