WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WETM) — It was a day of speed and smiles for drivers and fans alike. Games, food, prizes, and racing brought in visitors from near and far.

“It’s the racing for me,” said Emma Holtz. “I can’t wait to hear the engines roar and hear that amazing sound.”

Emma and her mom, Anne, traveled from Pittsburgh on a camping trip and decided to check out the race. Emma is a Formula-1 fan and knew that NASCAR would be her speed, too. A special guest at the race was U.S. Olympic Rower Olivia Coffey, who served as an honorary official for the race. This was also her first experience at the Glen.

“I grew up a couple miles down from the track, but I’ve never actually been here before. To be at this huge international event and then to come home and have something kind of feel as big and exciting is really special,” Coffey said.

The green flag was waiving for drivers and fans, with all the activities and events in full swing despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Go Bowling at The Glen 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic, so many fans were excited to return to the historic track Sunday.

“The Glen is always awesome. We actually just met a driver. It is an awesome feeling to just get out again and have agood time,” Scott Bowman of Rochester said.

In 2020, the cars stayed in the garage and the fans at their homes, but NASCAR and Watkins Glen International are excited to have the roar of the engines back in the Finger Lakes.

“This is honestly been quite the experience for me. Coming out here and seeing everybody after such a terrible year last year its been quite the experience so far. A lot of fandemonium,” Chad Blanar of Buffalo continued.

For returning fans, it was a homecoming to a track that has meant so much to them for many years. “I’ve been coming here since I remember. The early 2010s going to races I love this place it feels like home to me,” Anthony Notar of Buffalo concluded.