AND THE WALLS COME TUMBLIN' DOWN
Iconic Press Tower Demolished While Shovels are in the Ground at New Location
Watkins Glen, NY (December 19, 2007) -- Another chapter in the storied history of Watkins Glen International came to a close when Craig Rust, President of WGI, began the demolition of the historic road course's iconic Press Tower during a ceremony this afternoon. Members of the WGI staff and local media also took turns leaving their final "mark" on the building - with the use of a sledge hammer. The demolition of the Press Tower is segueing for a new state-of-the-art Media Center, which is expected to be completed in June of 2008.
The Press Tower has been one of the most recognizable landmarks at The Soul of American Road Racing since its construction in 1971. With the loss of the Glen Club in early 2007, the Press Tower became the second oldest structure at The Glen behind the Main Operations Building. The 4,000-square foot building was part of a modernization project requested by Formula 1 that included widening the road surface of the entire track, relocating the start-finish line and building new pits and garage. The original structure also housed timing and scoring for The Glen until 2006 when Race Control was added to the top of the FrontStretch Grandstand. Over the course of its over 35 year history, the Press Tower hosted national and international media and officials from virtually every major racing series including NASCAR, IndyCar, Grand-Am, Formula 1, CART, Trans-Am, Can-Am, IMSA and SCCA.
The new Media Center will not be placed in the same location as the former Press Tower. Groundbreaking began on Monday, and the crew is in the process of pouring the concrete footers on the foundation of the new building. The building will be located approximately 100-150 feet east of the old press tower, in an area previously used for high-end team recreational vehicles (RV's), known as the Newel RV lot. Artist renderings of the new building are being finalized and are expected to be released in mid-January. Updates on the progress of the new media center will be posted periodically to www.TheGlen.com/media.
Testimonials from national media and staff:
* "While preserving the heritage of motorsports is important -- keeping this historic building is not one of those cases... On a more serious note, as we have stated in the past, we are very happy to be able to construct a new facility and believe it will be well received and appreciated by the media that have been coming here over the years." Craig Rust, President of Watkins Glen International
* "I remember the press tower when I covered my first race at The Glen -- the 1974 Formula 5000 weekend -- and was very impressed by the circuit's media facilities. By the time the track reopened in 1984, the building had seen better days. We made a number of improvements over the years to keep up with the requirements of the media. I've got many great memories of the press tower, but it's great that WGI will be replacing it with a bigger and better structure." - J.J. O'Malley, former WGI public relations (1984 -- 1998) and current Senior Editor of RacingOne Multimedia (formerly ISC Publications)
* "It always reminded me of some naval vessel. Going up those stairs, I found myself imagining the sound of an air-raid siren. Sitting upstairs, sweating, I often felt the urge to say, 'Aye, aye, captain.'" - Monte Dutton, Gaston Gazette
* "It's the end of one of the great French fry racks ever built. Somewhere, an Eagle Scout will lament the demise of his project." - David Poole, Charlotte Observer
* "I will give Watkins Glen International credit. No where else on the NASCAR circuit could be found the "Presidential" restroom facilities. And if you didn't know, the words were right there on the door to remind you. Also, the Glen's staff is one of the most resourceful. Even up until August 2007, leftover fans from Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse -- brought in five years ago by a public relations representative when the air conditioning failed -- could still be found in use!" - Jim Utter, Charlotte Observer & www.thatsracin.com
* "When I first heard the building would be demolished it was just a feeling of pure, unbridled joy. My sweat glands thank WGI." - Steve Vesey, Sport Director, WETM-TV (Elmira, NY - NBC Affiliate)
* "The tower was always cramped, hot, or cold as the case may be, but it was always home on race weekends. On big race weekends it was fun to observe the media horde hovering as lunch time approached. It was like watching drivers jockeying for position on a restart. As the old tower goes down, I remember it fondly for providing shelter from the elements and a place to meet and spend time with friends." -- Terry Day, WETM-TV (1984-1999)
* "Drivers, press and support staff won't suffer hypothermia during October press conferences or lose 20 pounds in August by merely standing still anymore, but there will be an element of sadness when the old press tower comes crashing down. Aside from serving as a landmark at the race track, some of the best drivers in the last 30 years gathered there and, personally, I met and talked to some of the best people in the industry inside that shack." Chris Gill, Corning Leader
* "For many racing fans in the Northeast, and in Europe, the press tower at Watkins Glen International was a building that was a landscape icon, much like the old concrete blocked pit stalls and the blue guardrails. From Formula One to sports cars, Indycar to NASCAR and others in between...you could look at photos and film of racing history and know you were seeing something from The Glen. It won't be the same without that building in the center of the action." Chris P. Bacon, 100.9 WPGI-FM (local MRN affiliate)
* "The character of any old building is something to be treasured however I'm confident that the one thing that will not be missed is the constant threat of snow pouring through the slight gaps in the windows during a nor'easter -- the mark of a building's true character for sure." Scott Rovn, Sr. Director of Sales and Marketing Phoenix International Raceway (PR at WGI 1999-2000)