I have attended the Watkins
Glen races for the past 38 years, photographing and sketching exotic
machinery on the "hill circuit" since I was 11 years old.
Without realizing how fortunate I was, I grew up with the U.S. Grand Prix
as a fixture in my life. From time to time, references to the original 6.6
mile venue which circled the State Park gorge crept into the racing
literature I was reading. Then in 1996 my dabbling in automotive art took
a turn when my friend Doug Akin, a Formula Ford driver who had
commissioned a painting, encouraged me to make prints of my work. Because
Watkins Glen was approaching its 50th anniversary, I decided it was time I
found out more about those early races on the original track because I
just might find something interesting.
I contacted Bill Green, the course historian.
During our first meeting, Bill brought the old circuit to life with
detailed accounts and a wealth of photos. I can't claim a sudden
inspiration but my brain quickly reached "circuit" overload. It
was as if a spotlight was shining into the local King Tut's tomb of racing
history. I think I've begun to settle down now as Bill and I are
collaborating on the 6th painting, This print series seeks to capture the
excitement of those early years at The Glen. I find little need to invoke
artistic license when depicting the 1948 to 1952 races because there are
so many fascinating combinations of landscapes, crowds, and cars, in very
close quarters (with no Armco barriers in sight).
Since I live only a half-hour from those
original roads, I can easily drive around them and conjure up enough
images to keep me busy for years. As I visualize the old road course, I
think about the art of Peter Helk and Gordon Crosby and how this type of
subject was their domain. I want to pay homage to these artists of the
open road, recreating scenes of a past era in a style that's befitting.
By profession, I've been a middle-school art
teacher for 25 years, so I guess its natural that my most recent
automotive art project brings kids and cars together. I've created a 50th
Anniversary coloring book highlighting the half-century of road racing
here at Watkins Glen. The 8 1/2" x 11" booklet has 24 pages
illustrating some of the diverse events and personalities connected with
the Glen. With this history sampler, I hope to inspire a new generation of
Watkins Glen artists - and who knows? Maybe 50 years from now a Glen
Centennial coloring book will be created by one of the recipients of my
Commissioned painting for Doug Akin