In an interview with Watkins Glen International president Michael Printup last week, he revealed that advance ticket sales for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen are up 25 percent from one year ago. Do you know what it takes to boost attendance by 25 percent for anything these days?

In an interview last week with Michael Printup, Watkins Glen International president, he revealed that advance ticket sales for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen are up 25 percent from one year ago.

Granted, the annual endurance racing classic, ready for its 31st running the weekend of June 29-July 1, had room to grow, but do you know what it takes to boost attendance by 25 percent for anything these days?

Obviously, the date change helps, moving from early to mid-June, when graduations are abundant, to late in the month, when summer is just gearing up. Even though the six-hour race is considered one of the crown jewels in American sports car racing –– and decades ago, one of the top four in the world –– it never had a consistent home.

The race started in 1968, but it went on a two-decade hiatus when the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Corp. went kaput, and the track re-opened in the 1980s under the joint direction of Corning Enterprises and International Speedway Corp.

In 1994, the WGI staff re-introduced the six-hour format, which lasted five years, until no one was left to sanction it –– thanks, Andy Evans. Reappearing in 2000, it’s been a staple on the calendar since, but it has changed dates more times than Charlie Sheen during Tuesday a bender. May, June, July and August –– nothing seemed to attract fans in hordes.

The race has grown incrementally over the past two years, but nothing like a 25 percent boost. So what gives? Surely, the prices were slashed. No, but children 18 and younger are admitted free of charge.

It’s the addition of another series to the ticket like Camping World Trucks, of course. Nope, just the traditional Continental Tire Series for smaller GT cars.

Well, there must be some top-shelf talent driving in this year’s race, like Michael Schumacher, or maybe more celebrities like Patrick Dempsey. No. Not really. The same racers who have been here since 2004 are back –– Pruett, Angelelli, Gurney, Fogarty, Taylor, etc. And, yes, Dempsey will likely be back, too (yawn). Is he even considered a celebrity anymore?

Every fan with a ticket stub gets free beer? Yeah, right. Dancing girls at each flag station? Phish fans labor under the assumption this is actually another Super Ball festival? Nah, most of the Phish fans are probably still in the woods up there. Somewhere. Waiting. Plotting.

No, the reasons for a spike in the interests of Daytona Prototypes and Grand Touring cars probably have more to do with what’s going on in the Grand-Am Rolex Series than anything WGI is doing. Several iterations of the staff on Bronson Hill have tried to beef up the value of a ticket for the six-hour classic since the track re-opened, only to be met with apathy –– mostly from the national and regional press, which know next to nothing about sports cars unless Jimmie Johnson is driving one. That’s a shame because the event is the last pro race to really harken back to the old days.

The fact is, sports car racing, once the pinnacle of technological innovation, went through a terrible phase with old, outdated cars before adopting much more cost-effective yet hideous forms of chassis in the premier class. That’s not an easy sell, no matter who occupies the oval office at The Glen –– though none have ever said as much to me.

This year, beginning with next weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, the series will debut new, sleeker prototypes –– a welcome change from the boxy predecessors –– in addition to purpose-built Ferraris. That’s right, the Italian car maker produced GT race cars exclusively for the Rolex Series, which is a coup, such as if U2 wrote and performed a birthday song just for you.

We don’t yet know what the on-track product will be like, but we’re assured the cars will be easier on the eyes, which in sports car racing is half the draw. NASCAR, not so much. If you put Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart in Kias, people would watch for the star power. As good as drivers like Scott Pruett, a future Hall of Famer, Max “The Ax” Angelelli, legacy driver Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty are, they alone don’t move product, but the cars they drive do. The prototypes don’t look like anything else in racing and just having Ferraris in the field legitimizes the series as serious racing business.

Additionally, this year’s six-hour race will be part of Grand-Am’s North American Endurance Championship –– an excessive title summed up as a triple crown event. In horse racing terms, The Glen is the Preakness Stakes, while Daytona (Kentucky Derby) and Indianapolis (Belmont) make up the in-season championship. This further cements The Glen’s place in American road racing.

Grand-Am has something interesting to sell, and the race savvy fans around these parts realize it. That 25 percent is almost guaranteed to increase with more advance and walk-up sales, and for a sports car fan like me, it’s nice to see that happen again.

* Chris Gill, sports writer for The Leader in New York, can be reached at cmgill@the-leader.com.