Riesbeck Inducted as the Newest "Legend of The Glen"

Former Track Executive Helped Revitalize WGI in the Early 1980s and is Final Member of the Class of 2009

Jim Riesbeck

Jim Riesbeck was a leading force in reopening The Glen in 1984 and bringing NASCAR to the historic road course in 1986.

Officials from Watkins Glen International are proud to announce Jim Riesbeck as the final inductee into the “Legends of The Glen” Class of 2009.  After honoring the Drivers of the Decade in 2008, the Class of 2009 is composed of individuals who have had a significant influence over the history and success of Watkins Glen International.  The induction was a part of the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen weekend, August 6-9, which featured racing by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series—a series that Riesbeck helped bring back to The Glen more than twenty years ago.  The award was accepted on Friday afternoon by members of the Riesbeck family.  Family members in attendance included his brothers John and Larry Riesbeck, and his sister Mary Linda Vetter. 

“I believe Jim would be very proud of what he started and what it’s become over the last 25 years,” said John Riesbeck, Jim’s brother.  “Our family appreciates him being remembered in such a manner and it means a lot to us to have the trophy awarded to the winner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race named after him.”

“If it was not for Jim’s vision, persistence, and leadership skills in driving ISC and NASCAR to come up here back in the early 1980s I don’t think Watkins Glen would be what it is today,” said Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen International. “It is a great honor to have a chance to recognize a person that played such a large role in our history.”

In early 1983, Riesbeck was searching for a way to increase the economic viability of Upstate New York, which would benefit his employer, Corning, Inc.  After visiting the 1983 Daytona 500, Riesbeck knew that bringing NASCAR’s top division to the region was exactly what he needed to do.  He began searching for a facility near Corning, N.Y. and stumbled upon the racetrack in Watkins Glen which was for sale. 

At the time, The Glen was going through one of the darkest periods in its history.  The Watkins Glen Grand Prix Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 1981, leaving the track to be auctioned off and all spectator events cancelled for 1982 and 1983.  After looking at the facility for the first time on 1983, Riesbeck was surprised with the good condition of the track and quickly traveled back to Daytona Beach for a meeting with executives of International Speedway Corporation (ISC).  Within just a few months, the two companies announced a new entity formed through their joint venture.   The newly announced “Watkins Glen International” would begin hosting spectator events in 1984. 

Riesbeck never gave up on his dream of bringing NASCAR racing to Upstate New York and continued to work with NASCAR executives until he was successful in securing an agreement.  In August 1986, Watkins Glen International hosted its first race for NASCAR’s top division in more than 21 years.  After an afternoon on great racing on the 2.45-mile circuit, Tim Richmond took the checkered flag to win from the pole position. 

Riesbeck continued to be a driving force at The Glen until his untimely death in 1993.  In appreciation of everything Riesbeck has done to make The Glen on of the premier road courses in America, Watkins Glen International presents a Steuben bowl, The Riesbeck Cup, to the winner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race every year. 

Tickets for the entire 2009 season at Watkins Glen International are on sale now!  Don’t miss the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series as they take on the twisted turns of Watkins Glen International in their final road-course race of the season, August 6 - 9.  The DP and GT classes of the Rolex Sports Car Series return to The Glen to compete in the Crown Royal 200 on Friday night, followed by the Zippo 200 with the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Saturday afternoon.  The weekend will culminate with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing in the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen on Sunday afternoon.  Sunday only tickets begin at just $55, with weekend tickets beginning at $65.  For tickets and information, please contact the Watkins Glen International ticket office at 866-461-RACE or log on to the official Watkins Glen International website at www.TheGlen.com.  Tickets, gift certificates and track merchandise can be all purchased at The Shop located at 2 North Franklin Street in downtown Watkins Glen-Open Monday-Friday 9-5, Saturday 9-4, Closed Sunday; 607-535-2338.

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