WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- The Grand Prix Festival will return in 1997 as a key component of the Sept. 5-7 Zippo U.S. Vintage Grand Prix weekend.

The Friday festivities will be held in downtown Watkins Glen, highlighted by a two-lap reenactment of a race on the historic 6.6-mile circuit on public roads, which was used for the original 1948 Grand Prix, the birth of post-World War II road racing in the United States.

Many of the cars competing in the Zippo U.S. Vintage Grand Prix will take part in the race reenactment. Activities at the racetrack include a pair of popular two-hour endurance races for Vintage and Historic cars, the Collier Cup, Formula Invitational and races for eight Sportscar Vintage Racing Association classes. The weekend feature will be announced in the near future.

The Grand Prix Festival includes many varied and exciting activities for car owners, each including a tour of the original race circuit prior to the race reenactment:

~ The Concours d'Elegance -- a feature of the original Grand Prix -- will be held at the Watkins Glen State Park. The judged event, by invitation only, is limited to fifty vintage or classic cars of historic significance.

~ The Glenora Run is a road rally for vintage, classic and sports cars, held on the back roads of the Watkins Glen and Penn Yan area in the scenic Finger Lakes wine country. The starting point will be the Glenora Wine Cellars. It is limited to 120 cars.

~ The Glenkhana is an event for sports cars on a serpentine course behind Paradiso's Restaurant that will challenge your dexterity skills and sense of humor. It is limited to 40 cars.

In addition, car lovers and their families can enjoy:

~ The Grand Prix Drivers Walk of Fame located along Franklin Street, the main street of the village. Up to five new historic markers will be dedicated this year, recalling the achievements of auto racing greats who have competed at Watkins Glen. A self-guided tour tells the history of road racing at Watkins Glen.

~ The Automall, the perfect place to find your next sports car or vintage automobile, along with parts and racing memorabilia.

~ Live entertainment, food, wine tastings, an automotive art show, and racing movies in a restored theater, are among the activities being offered throughout the day on the entire length of Franklin Street. For additional information, call (607) 535-2481.