Road America: America’s National Park of Speed
Located in the scenic Kettle Moraine region of Wisconsin, Road America has been a staple of American motorsport for over 65 years. Known for its long straights, challenging corners, and rolling terrain, Road America has hosted some of the most memorable races in American racing history. From NASCAR to IndyCar to sports car racing, the track has seen some of the greatest drivers in history compete on its asphalt. In this article, we’ll explore the history, layout, and unique features of Road America, as well as some of its most notable races.
Road America was the brainchild of Clif Tufte, a Chicago-based real estate developer and car enthusiast who was searching for a location to build a racetrack. In 1955, Tufte discovered a 525-acre plot of land in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, which he felt was the perfect spot for a racetrack. The area was already known for its tourism industry, with visitors flocking to the nearby lake during the summer months.
Tufte enlisted the help of local business owners and car enthusiasts to help fund and build the track, which was completed in just six months. The first race was held on September 10, 1955, and was won by Phil Hill, who would go on to become a three-time Formula One World Champion.
Over the years, Road America has undergone several changes and upgrades, but the core layout of the track remains largely unchanged. The track is currently owned by Road America Inc., a company led by George Bruggenthies, who has overseen significant improvements to the facility in recent years.
Road America is a 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course that features a variety of corners, elevation changes, and long straights. The track is unique in that it is one of the few circuits in the world that has maintained its original layout, with no significant changes to the track’s configuration since it was first built.
One of the most iconic features of Road America is the long straightaway known as the “Moraine Sweep,” which runs for over a mile and features a slight bend in the middle. The straightaway leads into turn 5, which is a fast, sweeping right-hander that requires precision and bravery to carry as much speed as possible.
Other notable corners on the track include the tight, technical Carousel (turns 9 and 10), the high-speed Kink (turn 11), and the slow, double-apex Canada Corner (turn 12). The track also features several elevation changes, with significant drops and climbs in the downhill run to turn 5 and the uphill climb to turn 6.
Road America has hosted a wide variety of events over the years, including sports car racing, NASCAR, IndyCar, and motorcycle racing. One of the most famous races held at the track is the Road America 500, which was part of the IMSA GT Championship from 1973 to 1983. The race featured a mix of prototypes and GT cars and was known for its length (500 miles) and endurance, with drivers competing for over six hours on the grueling circuit.
Today, Road America is home to several major events each year, including the NASCAR Cup Series, IndyCar, and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The track also hosts vintage racing events, motorcycle races, and even a triathlon.
One of the most popular events at Road America is the WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman, which brings together a diverse range of vintage and historic racing cars for a weekend of racing and celebration. The event is named after Brian Redman, a former racing driver who won several races at Road America.
Aside from the race track, Road America boasts excellent facilities, including several buildings that serve as hospitality areas, vendor booths, and event spaces. The most notable building is the four-story Pagoda building, which features a VIP suite, media center, and timing and scoring facilities. The Pagoda provides a beautiful view of the entire track and is a great spot for fans and photographers to capture images of the race action.
Other facilities include the Road America Motorplex, which is a karting track that’s perfect for beginners or advanced drivers, and the Road America Motorcycle School, which offers courses for riders of all skill levels.
Road America is a racing institution, steeped in history and beloved by racers and fans alike. With its long straights, challenging turns, and sweeping elevation changes, it’s a track that demands respect and rewards bravery. Whether you’re a driver, a spectator, or just a fan of the sport, Road America is a must-visit destination that should be at the top of your list.
From its humble beginnings as a public road course to its current status as one of the premier tracks in North America, Road America has earned its place in the pantheon of great racetracks. With its picturesque setting, excellent facilities, and challenging layout, it’s a track that every racing enthusiast should experience at least once in their lifetime. So pack your bags, book your tickets, and head to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, for a weekend of high-speed thrills and unforgettable racing action at Road America.
- Road America Official Website: https://www.roadamerica.com/
- Road America – Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_America
- WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman: https://www.roadamerica.com/wtic
- NASCAR Xfinity Series at Road America: https://www.roadamerica.com/nascar
- SCCA National Championship Runoffs: https://www.scca.com/events/1993065-2022-runoffs
- Road America Motorplex: https://www.roadamerica.com/motorplex
- Road America Camping Information: https://www.roadamerica.com/camping
- Road America FAQ: https://www.roadamerica.com/faq
- Road America Rules and Safety Guidelines: https://www.roadamerica.com/rules-safety
- Road America Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/RoadAmerica
- Road America Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/roadamerica/
- Road America Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/roadamerica