- Associated Press - Friday, August 10, 2012

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) - Watkins Glen International is ready for any kind of weather.

A week after 10 fans were injured by lightning strikes at Pocono Raceway, one of them fatally, WGI president Michael Printup said his staff has been drilled repeatedly on what to do in case of a storm.

“All of our emergency action plans we review with NASCAR prior (to a race),” Printup said Friday. “We’ve been doing it for years, and to be honest I’m really sensitive to it. I was in California (in 1999) when (IndyCar driver) Greg Moore died. You have to be on your toes. Unfortunately, there’s tragedies that do happen in this sport, so I’ve been hyper-sensitive to it.”

Printup said he walks his staff through dry runs of all kinds of scenarios. “We practice,” he said. “We know what to do.”

Printup said there are more than 30 police cruisers with loudspeakers and nine big-screen televisions to warn fans. His staff also has text message availabilities to warn fans of impending danger.”All of this stuff helps to transmit signals because that’s what you have to do,” Printup said. “You have to communicate, and you have to communicate fast. You have to take personal ownership of your protection, and everybody has to understand that.”

Several violent thunderstorms moved through the Watkins Glen area Thursday night and rain forced NASCAR to curtail Sprint Cup practice on Friday. The Cup cars finally made it onto the track just after 4:30 p.m., though the Nationwide Series practiced in the rain on rain tires.

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