Fittipaldi Returns to WGI After 30 Years

Racing Legend Returns to Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of His First F1 Victory


Emerson Fittipaldi takes a few minutes to look over WGI from the roof of race control on the top of the FrontStretch Grandstand.


On October 4, 1970, Emerson Fittipaldi was behind the wheel of his Lotus-Ford and claimed the first Formula 1 victory of his career at Watkins Glen International. The win made Fittipaldi the first Brazilian to win a Formula 1 race, and would help kick start a legendary career. Almost forty years later on Wednesday, July 14, Fittipaldi returned to The Soul of American Road Racing to shoot a documentary and reminisce about his historic win.

“It is an honor for me to come back to Watkins Glen.  So much history and champions over so many eras have raced here,“ said Fittipaldi.  “Watkins Glen is the soul of racing in America and I am very proud to be here after so many years.  It is a blessing and I really enjoyed being back.”

“It was a real thrill having Emerson Fittipaldi up here and seeing his enthusiasm for being back at The Glen,” said Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen International.  “It is pretty neat to sit with a legend and ask him about his memories and experiences throughout his entire career.  Visits such as his really show the power of Watkins Glen International and the important place our legendary road course holds in motorsports history.”

Fittipaldi spent the day in Watkins Glen remembering the race he will never forget and describing the day in full detail. He spent most of the late afternoon and early evening walking through the current Turn 1, also known as the Ninety, as it was the final turn prior to the finish line in 1970.  Fittipaldi then headed to the top of race control which sits on the top of the FrontStretch Grandstand to get a birds-eye view of the entire track before sitting in the grandstand itself to simply enjoy his first visit to the legendary facility in three decades.  

The next stop was a visit to the International Motor Racing Research Center to take a stroll down memory lane with the help of pictures and magazines from his historic victory.  The tour of the Watkins Glen area was not complete without a stop at the famed Seneca Lodge.  Fittipaldi was able to see the championship laurels he received after clinching the 1972 and 1974 F1 Championships as both of them are still hanging on the walls of the Seneca Lodge. 

The tradition of hanging laurels in the lodge was started by the winners of the F1 U.S. Grand Prix and has been continued by the drivers of the IZOD IndyCar Series.  Will Power did his part to  keep the tradition going following his win in the 6th Annual Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen on Sunday, July 4. 

Fittipaldi’s win at WGI was the first of many in the legends career. Just two years after his historic win at The Glen,  Fittipaldi recorded five wins, two second place finishes, and one third place finish in twelve races to clinch the 1972 Formula 1 Championship that season. At the age of 25, Fittipaldi was the youngest driver in Formula 1 history to win the championship until Fernando Alonso won in 2005. He would win his second Formula 1 title with McLaren in 1974 and finish his F1 career in 1980 with 14 wins, 6 poles over a span of ten years.  The urge to race brought Fittipaldi back to racing in CART in 1984, and he did not disappoint.  The racing legend claimed two Indianapolis 500 titles, in 1989 and 1993, and the overall CART championship in 1989.  He competed in CART until the age of 50 and retired for good in 1996.

Tickets for the reaming 2010 season including the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen, August 5-8, and U.S. Vintage Grand Prix, September, 10-12, weekends are on sale now!  Fans can purchase tickets by calling the Watkins Glen International ticket office at 866-461-RACE (7223) or logging on to the official website,  Tickets, gift certificates and track merchandise can all be purchased at The Shop located at 2 North Franklin Street in downtown Watkins Glen.  The Shop is open Monday-Saturday 9-5 and Sunday 9-4.

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