NASCAR is in New York this week, as Watkins Glen International hosts the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen. It’s one of the more uniquely named races at one of the league’s most unique tracks. But before you head up north, here are our five Fast Facts to know about tailgating at Watkins Glen.
Watkins Glen has a fantastic area specifically for tailgaters. It’s called Paddock Tailgate Park, and it just launched in 2014. For $250 (separate from track admission), you get one vehicle pass and 10 guest wristbands for this exclusive zone which overlooks the existing Turn 1 tailgate area. Each Tailgate Park spot is paved and measures 15 feet by 40 feet, giving you plenty of room for the perfect race-day tailgate as well as enough wristbands to bring your family and friends to the party.
Regardless of where your tailgate is located, you should know that Watkins Glen is specific on how big it’s allowed to get. You can’t have an awning larger than 20 feet by 20 feet, or a party tent bigger than 20 feet by 30 feet. The latter also applies to circus tents, though we’d be a little confused as to why you’d try to bring a circus tent in the first place.
When you’re cleaning up your tailgate, make sure to recycle. Not only is it good for Watkins Glen, but they’re making it good for you as well. You can drop off your bottles and cans for cash at the redemption center near the West Tunnel and turn in your sorted plastic bags for stamps at the booths near every campground Town Hall location (see maps). Six redemption stamps gets you a free wristband for access to the pre-race ceremonies. That’s a pretty sweet deal.
It’s common for tailgaters to bring some of their leftovers inside the gates for snacking during the race, but don’t bring anything that needs to be kept cold or hot. You are not allowed to bring any ice packets or dry ice, nor Thermoses or any insulated cups. So whatever you’re saving for later, make sure that it will be okay at room temperature.
If your tailgate plan includes camping this weekend, be aware that unlike some other NASCAR tracks, Watkins Glen does not offer any unreserved camping spaces. You must purchase your camping spot in advance through their website, and the amenities vary greatly depending on where you’re located. Some areas have electric and water hookups; some do not. Some have assigned spaces; others are first-come, first-served. Make sure you check the guest info section on the venue’s website to determine what your camping area has. And if you haven’t made reservations yet, get on that immediately.
The Cheez-It 355 at the Glen takes place at Watkins Glen International this Sunday, August 9 at 2 p.m. ET.