Watkins Glen Motorola Cup preview

August 22, WATKINS GLEN, N. Y. - A 70-car entry, largest in the history of the Motorola Cup series presented by NewTech Group International, has been posted for the three-hour race at a circuit known as the “cradle of American road racing,” ...

August 22, WATKINS GLEN, N. Y. - A 70-car entry, largest in the history of the Motorola Cup series presented by NewTech Group International, has been posted for the three-hour race at a circuit known as the “cradle of American road racing,” Watkins Glen International.

The race, which begins Saturday, Aug. 26 at 3 p.m., will be the ninth of ten races in this, the Motorola Cup’s third season. The field of “street stock” cars will be the largest of the Bosch Summerfest at the Glen weekend.

No driver championships have been determined in any of the four classes - Super Grand Sport, Grand Sport, Sport-Touring and C2K. In fact, 31drivers have mathematical chances to unseat the four current leaders.

The biggest field of challengers is in the Super Grand Sport class where Joe Varde has nine other drivers within championship range of his points lead. Varde, of Charlotte, who finished second in the Aug. 12 NASCAR Busch North series race at The Glen, has five career Street Stock race wins here, including the 1988 and 1992 24-hour races. He will share one of the Team Amick/Grant-A-Wish/Children’s Promise Foundation Dodge Vipers with team owner, David Amick, Batesburg, S.C.

Amick’s younger brother, Lyndon, will share the team’s second Viper with Hank Parker Jr. Both are NASCAR Busch Series competitors.

Although Sam Shanaman, Andover, Mass., and his son, Brett, Oakland, Calif., have the WetFeet.com Pontiac Firebird only 20 points down to the Grand Sport class leaders, the Watkins Glen weekend will be a homecoming for both.

“I won my first professional race in 1989 at The Glen,” said Sam. “This year at Mid-Ohio, I won my second one, but that one was special because Brett was my co-driver this time. I can’t tell you what sharing a win with Brett at The Glen would mean.”

Brett, director of marketing for WetFeet.com, spent the 1994-95 off-season, working at The Glen while a Master’s degree student at Cornell’s Business School. “I worked under Bryan Sperber, who ran the track’s marketing department back then, and is now the track president,” Brett recalled.

“Watkins Glen is the most entertaining track in the country,” he claims. “A lap at WGI is not only thrilling, but it’s a technical challenge. A good lap here rewards great car set-up and knowledge of the track.” Now he returns to the track where, as an awestruck lad, he first watched Formula One races in the rain as a spectator.

“I was nine years old (he’s now 33). We were camped for the weekend on the hill overlooking the ‘Boot.’ It rained heavily and I don’t remember who won - I think it was James Hunt - but I still remember being captivated by the ‘rooster tails’ of water coming off the Ferraris. That was back in the days of The Bog, where I think I aged ten years in ten minutes of ‘observation’. I also remember being with my dad and ‘the guys’, eating nothing but peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and rhubarb pie. It was the best weekend of my short life. “And now, every time I drive through the Boot, I still look up on the hill and see that nine-year old boy standing there.”

The Shanamans are one of six father-son teams in the Motorola Cup series. In two cases, fathers manager teams for their sons, one team reverses that role, and they share driving duties in three instances.

The newest father-son team is nearby Montour Falls native Jim Seafuse and his son, Bret, a native of Ithaca. Both now live in Trumansburg, N.Y., where they own a grocery store. They will make their professional racing debut in one of the Snipes Motorsports Ford Mustang Cobras in the Grand Sport class.

The Watkins Glen State Park has an opportunity to receive a sizeable donation after the Motorola Cup race. Planet Earth Motorsports Acura GS-R co-drivers Will and Wayne Nonnamaker, North Canton, Oh., will donate ten percent of their car’s winnings to the popular park.

“When I was a little boy, we’d been to a Watkins Glen race with our parents,” recalled Will, the older of the brothers and founder of the Planet Earth concept. “We’d toured the park and were eating at a little restaurant on Franklin Street in downtown Watkins Glen. I looked over at the table next to us and (the late) Al Holbert was sitting there. He couldn’t have been nicer to us, and it created a lasting memory for me.”

Associate sponsors of the Motorola Cup series are NewTech Brake, NewTech Mecatronic, the Grant-A-Wish/Children’s Promise Foundation, Hoosier Tire, Sunoco, Deringer, Sony, Castrol, Speed Stick and Satisfied.

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Series GRANDAM