Special Event Guide: The iRacing Watkins Glen 6 Hours

A staple race of the real-world IMSA SportsCar Championship and iRacing’s Special Event calendar, the Watkins Glen 6 Hours is not a competition you want to miss.

After the completion of two IMSA classics in the first half of the year, June signals the approach of a third.

The Watkins Glen 6 Hours takes place at one of the world’s most historic venues, Watkins Glen International. The fast and sweeping layout of The Glen lends itself to thrilling wheel-to-wheel action, where traffic could quickly put an end to your chances of a competitive result with few easy overtaking areas. 

The race is contested with entries made up of the GTP, LMP2, and IMSA GT3 categories.

When Is The Watkins Glen 6 Hours Held?

The iRacing Watkins Glen 6 Hours normally takes place in the middle of June, usually a week before the real-life IMSA event at the circuit. In 2024, it is scheduled for June 14th-16th.

A total of four time slots determine when each race will start, with each being chosen so that racers all over the world have the opportunity to compete in the long-distance contest at a time that suits them.

  •  Friday: 10 PM GMT
  • Saturday/Sunday: 8 AM GMT, 12 PM GMT, 4 PM GMT

How Is The Watkins Glen 6 Hours Structured?

Never fear if you’re taking to the track from a different part of the globe, as iRacing provides a variety of different race times that cover regions worldwide. 

  • The late Friday GMT fixture is ideal for drivers from North and South America as it will take place during the day
  • The early Saturday morning GMT splits are perfect for drivers in the Asian/Australasian regions
  • The 12 PM slot will be when the pro spilt race will take place, so if you are not participating and wish to spectate, this is the one to pay attention to.
    Less experienced drivers may want to try one of the other fixtures due to this being the busiest available.
  • The later splits are also handy if you suffer a technical problem or crash out from an earlier race, giving you another opportunity to achieve glory!  

The Watkins Glen 6 Hours is set up as a team event with a minimum driver number of two per squad, and a maximum of 16 runners per outfit. 

  • Make sure to download the free Coach Dave Delta app today to access the full range of setups to fight for supremacy whenever you hit the track!

What License Is Needed To Race?

To take part in the iRacing Watkins Glen 6 Hours, you only need to reach a D-level road racing licence. Bear in mind though that you need a safety rating level of at least 4.0 if at D level, while it doesn’t matter what SR you have if you possess a C licence or higher. 

  • The license you have doesn’t determine which split you are placed in. This will instead be sorted out by your total sports car road racing iRating.
  • Speed has no bearing on how clean a driver races, so just because they possess a strong iRating, don’t assume they have a high level of racecraft  

The D-level license needed for this race should be pretty straightforward to reach as you just need to progress from the Rookie license. 

  • Putting together clean races in series such as the Formula 1600, Formula Vee, and Global Mazda MX-5 Cup should quickly allow you to reach the required level.   

Due to the Watkins Glen 6 Hours encounter being significantly longer than the usual daily events, it provides an excellent chance for you to make massive iRating and safety rating gains. Of course, you’ll need to keep things clean, but if you do the rewards are more than worth the effort. 

  • If you currently don’t have a high enough license level to take part at The Glen, take a look at Coach Dave Academy’s license guide so you can work on getting yourself to the level needed to take part in the ultra-fun event. 

What Is The Watkins Glen International?

Watkins Glen International is one of the oldest purpose-built race venues in the USA, with its first event kicking off way back in 1948. The track quickly developed over the coming years, becoming the host of the United States Formula 1 Grand Prix for almost 20 years between 1961 and 1980. 

Alongside the IMSA SportsCar Championship, the circuit currently also hosts a round of the NASCAR Cup Series. The stock car series has enjoyed an on/off relationship with the circuit that stretches back to 1957, and it has visited the track every year since 1986 aside from the COVID-affected 2020 season. 

The venue is one of the fastest in the USA due to it being made predominantly of fast and sweeping bends, the full 5.5-kilometre circuit only featuring two slow corners. One of these is Turn 1, which quickly leads into the iconic uphill esses – a section taken flat out in most racing machines.

The IMSA layout of the track features the quick and tricky chicane at the end of the long back straight, a complex that’s easy to get wrong due to the presence of bumpy grassy sections on the other side of the large curbs. 

An ultra-fast middle and final sector is split up by the second of the track’s slow-speed bends, an uphill left-hander. You can brake later than you think here due to the rising elevation, though making sure to back up the entries of the faster corners is key to maximizing momentum.  

The Cars

The Watkins Glen 6 Hours is structured as a multi-class event that makes use of the GTP, LMP2, and GT3 classes.


The GTP class is made up of four hybrid-powered prototypes which are the fastest vehicles on the track.

The cars have traction control but no ABS, meaning that precision on the brake pedal is a must due to how easily the front tyres can be locked. They also feature a large amount of downforce, meaning they feel great in high-speed bends but relatively cumbersome in slower turns due to being set up to make full use of their aero. 

Their performance is equalized by iRacing’s Balance of Performance (BOP) system. Due to the minimal differences in speed between the GTPs, bolting on a Coach Dave Academy-developed setup could make all the difference against your rivals. 

CarEngine type
Acura ARX-06 GTPMid-engined layout, twin-turbocharged 2.4-litre V6
BMW M Hybrid V8Mid-engined layout, turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six
Cadillac V-Series.R GTPMid-engined layout, naturally aspirated 5.5-litre V8 
Porsche 963 GTPMid-engined layout, twin-turbocharged 4.6-litre V8 


The iRacing LMP2 class currently consists of a single vehicle, the Dallara P217.

The LMP2 regulations stipulate that each car built to the rule set is of fixed specification. The Dallara isn’t far behind in terms of downforce compared to the faster GTP vehicles, with its deficit coming on the straights. Its 4.2-litre Gibson V8 produces less power than the engines in the GTPs, while the lack of a hybrid drive system means it accelerates from corners slower.

This also makes it harder to pass slower traffic, as corner exits provide the safest and most time-efficient place to slip by.   

If you want to get ahead of the pack from the outset, install one of Coach Dave Academy’s bespoke setups for your Dallara LMP2 weapon. 

CarEngine type
Dallara P217Mid-engined layout, naturally-aspirated 4.2-litre V8


The GT-based GT3 vehicles will be the slowest vehicles on track during the Watkins Glen 6 Hours, though the aero-heavy machines still pack a potent punch. 

The class is made up of a total of six cars from some of the world’s greatest marques. Despite their relative lack of outright pace, the GT3 class has the biggest variation in terms of vehicle layout of the three categories. 

Each has a unique engine layout/placement combo, and these attributes add up to each needing varying driving styles to get the best from them. If you want to best the rest of your tin-top competition, try one of Coach Dave Academy’s setups for your chosen GT3 challenger. 

CarEngine type
Audi R8 LMS GT3Naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10 
BMW M4 GT3Twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six
Ferrari 296 GT3Twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6  
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EvoNaturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10
Mercedes-AMG GT3 2020Naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre V8 
Porsche 911 GT3 R 992Naturally-aspirated 4.2-litre flat-six

Need some support?

Our iRacing Setup Subscription allows you to focus purely on your on-track performance season-round, including during special events such as the Watkins Glen 6 Hours. And, with access to our free Coach Dave Delta app, installing them couldn’t be any easier.

  • Race setups
  • Qualifying setups
  • Onboard laps
  • Data packs
  • All are crafted by professionals

Check out these tutorials of the Watkins Glen International course with some of our professional drivers to ensure you’re fully up to speed with the track before the event. 

Race Format and Strategy

As is to be expected with iRacing’s special events, the grid for each race is decided by an eight-minute qualifying test that provides a total of two laps to the driver nominated to qualify by each team. A 30-minute practice session will take place just before to ensure each squad loads their setup correctly and is comfortably in the server. 

The race will then get underway with a rolling start procedure.

If you need to brush up on your driving technique before taking on the demanding Watkins Glen circuit, take a look at Coach Dave Academy’s Never Lift guide. Crafted by our team of professional drivers and engineers, Never Lift features all the advanced driving tips you need to maximize your potential on the track. 

Track Conditions

The Watkins Glen 6 Hours contest features dynamic weather, so the grip that the track affords you will alter as the race progresses. Traction can change depending on the surface temperature of the track, which can be affected as cloud cover increases or decreases. The circuit will also get grippier due to extra rubber being laid down on the racing line as the race progresses.

  • The entire team conducting practice in different conditions is recommended before the race
  • Track development is important to keep on top of as car balance can shift significantly, which can harm driver confidence
  • Temperature differences can greatly affect tyre wear, so keep an eye on this value throughout the race to make sure you aren’t pushing your rubber too hard if the track is hotter  

With the recent addition of iRacing’s Tempest weather system, you might just need to keep an even closer eye on the sky during 2024’s Watkins Glen 6 Hours.


Consistency is a crucial ingredient to scoring a good result in a long-distance race, as without this element you’ll likely be swallowed up by the competition.

  • Having a good race rhythm will help to prevent mistakes as the car will always be within its limits, as is the driver 
  • This will also ensure the car is looked after as when pushing hard it is easy to overstress the tyres
  • This will cause them to deteriorate toward the end of the stint, leaving you vulnerable to those behind

Having the correct setup will make being consistent much simpler, and Coach Dave Academy setup engineer Oriol explained what to look out for when preparing a car for Watkins Glen. 

“For Watkins Glen, the most important car attribute needed is to have a good balance in the mid and high-speed corners You also need to have a good compromise with the aero balance between strong top speed and corner exit grip. 

“There are a lot of fast corners so it’s important to have good stability in the middle and exit of the bend, and a precise, fast turn-in.  We need to focus on achieving a good top speed after Turn 1 but also have a good damping balance across the chicane’s curbs to accelerate ASAP to reach a good corner speed in Turn 5 (outer loop.) 

“Exit grip is also important in the two slow corners (8-9). Taking advantage of the exit curb in Turn 8 is key, while you need to be wary of Turn 9 as it’s very slippery on the exit. Turns 10-11 are again fast corners, where it’s crucial to manage good cornering speed.”


Being a multi-class event, you will need to take care of faster or slower classes that you share the track with throughout the Watkins Glen 6 Hours.

  • Try to leave as many moves as possible until the straights, which mitigates risk. Riskier moves will need to be taken at times due to how much time can be lost being held up in fast corners, but these should only be made if absolutely necessary
  • Prototype vehicles easily have enough acceleration to dispatch GTs without issue
  • Try to look ahead and work out if you’ll catch a car before the next corner, and if so back up the entry of the corner to slingshot past the vehicle on the exit
  • It’ll be harder to get into a rhythm in a multi-class race due to always having to watch your mirrors or navigate slower traffic, so remaining calm and decisive in your driving will help maximise your finish

These tips should help to keep you in the race for supremacy until the very end, especially at a venue like Watkins Glen where it’s easy to lose a lot of time and get frustrated – which is when mistakes creep in. 

Putting together a clean race should ensure you score a strong result as many take a risk too far through The Glen’s rapid curves.

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