Road Racing challenge and fun-loving fans make Watkins Glen's Little Trees 150 a Busch North season highlight for short-tracker Bill Penfold. WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 2, 2002)-- There's no more classic short track racer on the Busch North ...
Road Racing challenge and fun-loving fans make Watkins Glen's Little Trees 150 a Busch North season highlight for short-tracker Bill Penfold.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 2, 2002)-- There's no more classic short track racer on the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring roster than Yarmouth, Maine's Bill Penfold. A product of the bullrings of northern New England, his natural element is turning left at close quarters. Yet when the Little Trees 150 presented by Pepsi on the world-famous Watkins Glen International road course is mentioned, Penfold's enthusiasm is boundless.
Partly, it's the track itself, which suits Penfold's attacking style. More than that, it's the fans, for Watkins Glen offers a chance for the fans to get close to the drivers, even on a weekend where the NASCAR Winston Cup Series is featured. Just as important to Bill Penfold, it offers a chance for the drivers to get close to the fans. "I love the Glen because I love the people," he declared. "It's really a good time, I wish we could go there twice," he added.
The Busch North Series' tenth annual visit to the "Home of American Road Racing" takes place Friday, August 9 and Saturday, August 10, as the principal supporting event of the Sirius Satellite Radio at the Glen Winston Cup weekend. All the preliminaries-- practice, Bud Pole Qualifying, and final practice- are on Friday, with the Little Trees 150 presented by Pepsi set for 1 p.m. on Saturday. SPEED Channel will record the action for national telecast on Monday evening, September 9.
When Bill Penfold rolls his VIP Charter Coaches Chevrolet on to the Glen's racing surface, he goes into road race mode. "It's a different frame of mind totally for me," he explained. "You have to attack the track completely differently. You don't go out and drive; you attack."
Comparing his Watkins Glen approach to a superspeedway, he continued, "Every corner, every inch of the race track, I'm driving 150 percent all the time. When you're at Loudon, for example, you try to wait toward the end to go really hard, so you don't punish the car. On a road course, you don't wait until the end, you have to race the track itself, all the time."
The traditional nemesis of stock car racers at Watkins Glen has been brakes, since the two longest straights end in heavy braking zones for turn one and the inner loop. Bill Penfold has a solution straight from the short track racer's handbook- basically, don't rely on the brakes. "I've never had any brake trouble at any road course," he related, adding "I buy really good road course type brakes, but I'm not one who uses a lot of brake. Maybe that's my downfall, that I use the drivetrain too much to slow down, but I drive really hard and use the transmission and the brakes at the same time."
While Watkins Glen may be about braking zones and gear ratios and shock settings, it's always been about fans along the fences as well. A generation ago, they cheered for Hill and Clark and Donohue Andretti. Since the track reopened in the 1980's, it's been Wallace and Rudd Martin and Gordon and the Earnhardts. Now they take notice of names like Santerre, Christopher, Leighton, Kobyluck, Shaw, Moore, and Penfold too, for the Little Trees 150 presented by Pepsi has become the second biggest event on the track's schedule.
With that in mind, Bill Penfold saved his final tribute for the Glen faithful: "They are the most fun of any fans we see. They're at the Glen for a good time and to watch a great race. We'll try to give them both."