Rounds 3 and 4 of the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America at Watkins Glen International will be a homecoming of sorts for Peter Argetsinger.
After all, his father helped create the scenic, 11-turn, 3.4-mile circuit that has become known around the motorsports world.
Watkins Glen is one of the most historic circuits in North America, but it is more than that for Argetsinger: The circuit is part of his family heritage. And The Glen International also helped propel him to success in the racing world.
The Argetsinger family’s love for speed started on the streets of Watkins Glen, a village of 1,850 residents nestled in the rolling, pastoral hills of the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.
Peter Argetsinger’s father, Cameron, drove his MG-TC through the roads of the village and the surrounding area. But everyday driving wasn’t enough for Cameron. He needed more speed.
“He had a passion for European-style road racing, but there wasn’t any in this country at that point,” Peter Argetsinger said of his father.
“So he organized the first road race in Watkins Glen in 1948. The community embraced his passion, and he even raced in some of the first few races.”
Racing took place on a 6.6-mile course on the village streets of Watkins Glen until 1952 when Cameron Argetsinger and his friend and competitor Bill Milliken designed the modern-day Watkins Glen International after the community purchased the land.
In 1956, the permanent circuit opened with Cameron Argetsinger as the executive director of the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Corporation. The circuit hosted the U.S. Grand Prix for the first time in 1961.
From day one, racing surrounded Peter Argetsinger. His family hosted race parties at the family’s home, not far from the track. Peter’s mother, Jean, who founded the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, still lives in the family home at age 96. All of this kindled the racing fire in Peter Argetsinger.
“The racing, always the racing, but even the coaching and especially coming back to Watkins Glen never gets old,” Argetsinger said.
“The first time I drove I was 5 years old, sitting on my father’s lap. I would drive around the old Grand Prix circuit at 2 o’clock in the morning when I was 16 trying to develop my racing skills. I’m excited about it now just as much as I was the first time in the car.”
After college, Argetsinger moved to Germany and joined one of his brothers, who saw opportunities for seat time and sponsorship. And from there he went to England to race, mainly in open-wheel competition.
Since that time, he has started more than 300 races as a professional driver in multiple series, including British Formula Ford, British Formula 3, GRAND-AM, the American Le Mans Series and many more.
He is a veteran of some of the biggest sports car races in the world, such as the Rolex 24 At Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans, 1000km Nurburgring, 24 Hours of Nurburgring, 24 Hours of Spa, 24 Hours at Watkins Glen and 6 Hours at Watkins Glen.
He has won a British Formula Ford championship and Petit Le Mans in the GT class. Additionally, one of his favorite accomplishments was winning a Grand Am Motorola Cup race at Watkins Glen.
But like many drivers, the sponsorship money wasn’t always there. So Argetsinger found another way to channel his passion for racing by teaching his craft.
“It was a natural progression to coaching,” Argetsinger said. “I got offered a job at the Brands Hatch Racing School, and I found out that I liked coaching. One job led to another, and I’ve been able to continue racing while helping others and making a career out of coaching.”
Through the years, Argetsinger has helped coach some of the most promising young drivers in the world, such as Formula One World Champion Damon Hill, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, with some unique experiences along the way.
While Argetsinger was still in Britain, a celebrity race pitted the House of Lords against the House of Commons. Argetsinger coached and trained the House of Lords for the race.
Upon his return to the United States, Argetsinger helped set up Brands Hatch American Racing School. One of his first clients was the U.S. State Department Anti-Terrorist Division.
“I did mainly the high-performance driving part of it,” Argetsinger said. “But we also worked with them doing classroom stuff and also doing something called ‘Car Wars.’ We would have 15 disposable vehicles and set up a terrorist situation to learn how to get out of a dangerous situation. It was very interesting.”
Argetsinger found the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America series through coaching. He was working with Joe Courtney of Musante-Courtney Racing, and Courtney asked him to be his co-driver in the series last season.
“I love driving the cars,” Argetsinger said. “And it’s always fun being with the Courtney-Musante team. The series has great cars and great people participating.”
Argetsinger will make his 2015 season debut in Rounds 3 and 4 on June 25-27 at Watkins Glen with Musante-Courtney Racing driving one of the team’s Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 cars.
“I’m excited to be back with the team and the series this year,” Argetsinger said. “I’ve been continually impressed with the series and how organized it is. It is amazing what it has done in just the three short seasons in the U.S. I’m looking forward to being back.”