The first weekend of October in Watkins Glen, N.Y. is a vivid visual delight. Rolling hills are draped with a tight-woven mantle of turning leaves, freshly harvested fields form furrowed checkerboards and the deep waters of Seneca Lake glisten beneath the autumn sky. Suddenly this tranquil scene is ripped by an unearthly sound. It is the oscillating scream of a Formula I car practicing on Watkins Glen Race Circuit. But by next Sunday, the day of the United States Grand Prix, even the high-pitched chorus of 22 machines will almost be drowned out by the steady rumble of 100,000 spectators. For three decades they have come to savor the natural splendors at Watkins Glen while marveling at the most sophisticated automobiles technology can produce.
In the garage area a curious crowd constantly shuffles past as mechanics adjust, and sometimes rebuild, the race cars.
In a scene of contrasts, a six-wheeled Tyrrell follows the black asphalt path between walls of bright-hued leaves.
Trees are missing on some parts of the circuit, replaced by equally colorful walls of spectators.
With the race minutes away, the crowd still presses close to the cars...and mechanics still are at work.