HomeCar CultureWatkins Glen seminar examines motorsports culture

Watkins Glen seminar examines motorsports culture


“The First Turn Meets the Cultural Turn — History on the Eights” is the theme for the fourth annual Michael R. Argetsinger Symposium on International Motor Racing History, scheduled for November 9-10 at Watkins Glen, New York. 

Topics range from a discussion of the Cars animated movie — “Differentiating Between Richard ‘The King’ Petty and Pixar’s ‘Mr. The King’: Historiogrpahy in NASCAR and Why It Matters” — to a presentation by Karl Ludvigsen on his latest work, a two-volume biography, Reid Railton: Man of Speed.

The symposium is a joint project by the International Motor Racing Research Center and the Society of Automotive Historians. 

“Seventy years ago, racing culture exploded,” automotive historian Don Capps is quoted in a news release. “1948 was definitely a keystone year. From the founding of NASCAR to the origin of racing in the streets of Watkins Glen and the birth of many legendary venues and marques in Europe, the post-war world was ready to embrace motorsports. The theme for this year’s symposium celebrates that.”

Looking into the lobby from the second floor of the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, New York | IMRRC photos

The complete schedule:

Friday, November 9

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Watkins Glen International Media Center

Tony Adamich of Kent State University discusses “Formula Vee: The Birth of Florida’s ‘People’s Race Car’.“ 

Francis Clax, host of The Motorcycle cable series, presents “Americans Enter International Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing.”

Kate Sullivan, speed-record driver and a psychologist at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, presents “From Grassroots to In-Groups: The Evolution of NASCAR Fan Identity from Accessible to Exclusionary.”

Skip McGoun, professor of finance at Bucknell University, discusses “Automobile Commerce and Competition in the 19th Century.”

Paul Baxa, chairman of the history department at Ave Maria University, presents “1928: Grand Prix Racing’s ‘Year Zero’.”

Bryan Gable, columnist for frontstretch.com, discusses “City of Racers: The Growth of the NASCAR Industry in Charlotte, North Carolina, 1949-2000.”

5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the International Motor Racing Research Center

Karl Ludvigsen and his latest publication

A screening of Cars, followed by “Differentiating Between Richard ‘The King’ Petty and Pixar’s ‘Mr. The King’: Historiography in NASCAR and Why It Matters,” by automotive historian Jonathan Summers.

Saturday, November 10, at the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium

10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Topic: “Fair Play or Fear Play? A Comparative Analysis of Evolutions in American and European Representations of Motor Sport” including:

Timothy Robeers of Antwerp University shares his Ph.D. thesis research findings on “From Formula 1 to Formula E and Beyond: Media and Audience Representations of Electric Motor Sport in the 21st Century.”

Mark Howell, professor at Northwestern Michigan College, presents “Not my Daddy’s NASCAR: The Grand National Series, Narrative, and Collective Memory.”

Mike Stocz, assistant professor at the University of North Alabama, focuses on “Nostalgia & Today: Comparing Facebook Posts of User Interactions Surrounding Historic & Current Daytona 500 Events.”

1:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Karl Ludvigsen presents “Reid Railton: Man of Speed.”

Buz McKim, recently retired historian at the NASCAR Museum, offers the keynote lecture “The Formation and Early Days of NASCAR.”

4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Roundtable discussion: “Stock Car Racing and History” featuring Donald Capps, U.S. Army Colonel (Ret.); Pat Yongue, professor emeritus, University of Houston; Scott Beekman, professor, University of Rio Grande.

All sessions are open to the public with no admission fees.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Hi Larry,

    As a presenter at this year’s fourth annual Michael R. Argetsinger Symposium on International Racing History I sincerely appreciated your attendance and express my thanks for writing this event summary article. It was very kind and thoughtful for you to include my name in your article. Thank you also for publicizing this event and I hope to see you again next year if not sooner.

    ~ Francis G. Clax, Founder & CEO


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