Road America

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Road America
America's National Park of Speed[1]
Road America.svg
Road America Track Layout
Location Town of Plymouth, Sheboygan County, at N7390 Highway 67, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Time zone UTC-6 (UTC-5 DST)
Coordinates 43°47′51″N 87°59′38″W / 43.79750°N 87.99389°W / 43.79750; -87.99389Coordinates: 43°47′51″N 87°59′38″W / 43.79750°N 87.99389°W / 43.79750; -87.99389
Capacity Open seating without capacity limitation
Owner Road America, Inc.
Operator Road America, Inc.
Opened 1955
Former names Elkhart Lake Road Races
Major events

American Le Mans Series
NASCAR Nationwide Series (2010-Present) The Hawk with Brian Redman (vintage cars) SCCA June Sprints AMA Superbike SCCA Runoffs (2009-present)

Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series
Road Course
Surface Asphalt
Length 4.048 mi (6.515 km)
Turns 14
Lap record 1:39.866 (Dario Franchitti, Team KOOL Green, 2000, Champ Car)
karting road course
Surface Asphalt
Length 0.8 mi (1.3 km)
Off road racing road course (defunct)
Surface

Clay

Elkhart Lake Road Race Circuits
Location Cty Hwys, J, P, JP, A, and Lake St., Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Area 56.7 acres (22.9 ha)
Built 1950
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 06000053[2]
Added to NRHP February 17, 2006

Road America is a road course located near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on Wisconsin Highway 67. It has hosted races since the 1950s and currently hosts races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, American Le Mans (Road America 500), SCCA Speed World Challenge Series, Grand-Am, ASRA, and AMA Superbike series. Open-wheel racing journalist Robin Miller says that Road America is "the best test of road racing in North America".[3]

Current track and facilities[edit]

Road America is a permanent road course. It is located midway between the cities of Milwaukee and Green Bay.

The track is situated on 640 acres (2.6 km2) in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine and it is located near the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. It has hosted races since September 1955 and currently hosts over 400 events a year.[4] Of its annual events, 9 major weekends are open to the public which include 3 motorcycle events including the AMA Superbike series, 3 vintage car events, Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events, the United Sports Car Racing Series, the SPEED World Challenge, and the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Road America is one of only a handful of road circuits in the world maintaining its original configuration[4] being 4.048 miles (6.515 km) in length and 14 turns. The track features many elevation changes, along with a long front stretch where speeds approaching 200 mph (320 km/h) may be reached. One of the best known features of this course is a turn on the backside known as "the kink."

Road America offers open seating which allows spectators to venture throughout the grounds. Grandstands are available in several locations as well as permanent hillside seating where crowds of more than 150,000 may be accommodated.[citation needed] The facility includes thirteen concession stands and allows both tent and RV camping onsite for an additional fee. Complimentary perimeter parking is offered to spectators and children age 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

Blain's Farm & Fleet Motorplex[edit]

In addition to the main course, the facility includes a 0.8-mile (1.3 km) karting track called the Blain's Farm & Fleet Motorplex inside the Carousel. The Blain's Farm & Fleet Motorplex hosts two series of karting events. It hosts weekly events on Tuesdays in the summer. It also hosts approximately six Saturday events during the summer. The motorplex also hosts events sanctioned by the North Woods GP series running Supermoto and street bike racing using small displacement motorcycles.

Off road racing circuit[edit]

The Blain's Farm & Fleet Motorplex was built at the site of an earlier off road racing circuit used for several SODA events in the 1990s.

Tunnel[edit]

Paddock tunnel

In late 2006, Road America began a project to remove the old Billy Mitchell bridge and use a tunnel as the main entrance to the paddock. The tunnel project was completed in May 2007 with the grand opening celebration on May 31 for the AMA Suzuki Superbike Championship weekend.[5] The tunnel is 16.5' high and 36' wide and has two lanes of traffic and two pedestrian walkways on either side. With the removal of the bridge, a new spectator viewing area was created.

History of racing at Elkhart Lake[edit]

Open road course[edit]

The site of the 1951 and 1952 start finish line for road races in downtown Elkhart Lake

In the late 1940s, road racing was gaining popularity, owing to the post World War II economy, and the influx of sporting automobiles. The Sports Car Club of America was the main organizer of these races, and in 1950, the Chicago Region SCCA and the Village of Elkhart Lake organized the first road race at Elkhart Lake.

The 1950 circuit start-finish line was on County Road P. Competitors went north to County Road J, then South into the Village of Elkhart Lake, and West on what is now County JP (then called County Highway X), and reconnected with County Road P for a total distance of 3.3 miles (5.3 km).

For the next two races, in 1951 and 1952, a different course was used. It was 6.5 miles (10.5 km) long, on County Roads J, A, and P. To date, one may still drive most of the original courses.

The original course was registered on the National Register of Historic Places on February 17, 2006. Signs have been installed marking key locations on the course.

Private road course[edit]

After the tragedy at Watkins Glen in 1952, where a child was killed, the U.S. ruled to discontinue motorized contests of speed on public highways. This was a major blow for competition auto racing and brought the end of a long-standing tradition. This did not permanently stop road racing, however, it did shift it to private courses. In 1955, Clif Tufte started what is now known as Road America, in a configuration that has changed little over the past 50 years. The addition of Road America as a private track meant a transition from racing through the streets of tiny Elkhart Lake to racing on a big, wide, dedicated race track.

Racing at Road America[edit]

Many different racing series have had the occasion to race at Road America. The first was the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) on September 10, 1955.[6] The Road America 500 is a sports car race that was part of different championships, among them the SCCA National Sports Car Championship, the United States Road Racing Championship and the IMSA GT Championship. Currently it is a points-paying race of the Americana Le Mans Series. The Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America was an open-wheel race held as part of the Champ Car World Seriesas well as the 24 Hours of Lemons Series' Chubba Cheddar Enduro.

Other notable series have included NASCAR's Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) in 1956 and Nationwide Series since 2010, CART from 1982 until 2007,[7] Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Racing Series, CanAm, Trans-Am, AMA, and the SCCA National Championship Runoffs from 2009 to 2013. Road America also holds a variety of vintage racing events, including the Brian Redman International Challenge, now the HAWK with Brian Redman.

ALMS race history[edit]

At the 2008 Road America 500 an Audi R10 TDI set an LMP1 pole time of 1:46.935. At the 2009 Road Race Showcase, Dyson Racing Team set an LMP2 pole time of 1:51.010. At the 2011 Road Race Showcase, BMW Team RLL set a GT pole time of 2:05.447, while at the same event a Porsche 997 GT3 set a GTC pole time of 2:14.126.

NASCAR race history[edit]

Cup Series[edit]

One NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) race was held in 1956.

Year Date Driver Team Manufacturer Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
(mph)
Laps Miles (km)
1956 August 12 Tim Flock Bill Stroppe Mercury 63 258.3 (415.693) 3:29:50 73.858

Nationwide Series[edit]

Nationwide cars in 2010

On December 21, 2009, NASCAR announced that with the situation at the Wisconsin State Fair Park being unclear, and losing races at the Milwaukee Mile, they would move Milwaukee's Nationwide Series race to Road America. The first race was held on June 19, 2010 and was won by Carl Edwards.[8]

Year Date Driver Team Manufacturer Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
(mph)
Laps Miles (km)
2010 June 19 Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing Ford 50 202.4 (325.731) 2:57:17 68.501
2011 June 25 Reed Sorenson Turner Motorsports Chevrolet 57* 230.736 (371.333) 2:55:24 78.929
2012 June 23 Nelson Piquet, Jr. Turner Motorsports Chevrolet 50 202.4 (325.731) 2:22:35 85.171
2013 June 22 A.J. Allmendinger Penske Racing Ford 55* 222.64 (356.224) 2:58:50 74.697
  • 2011: Race extended due to three green-white-checkered finish attempts and ended under caution when the three attempts to finish the race failed.
  • 2013: Race extended due to two green-white-checkered finish attempts.

Champ Car race results[edit]

Champ Car events were held at the track from 1982–2007, with the exception of 2005.

Major incidents and events at the track[edit]

2005 BRIC wreck[edit]

At the beginning of the Group 6 race in the 2005 Brian Redman International Challenge, there was a large incident consisting of most of the field: The driver starting fifth accelerated well before the green flag and tried to force his way between the wall and the car in front of him, resulting in contact with the wall. A following car checked up and was rear-ended, causing a spin that led to further contact as following cars were unable to avoid the growing incident. After just a few seconds of green flag racing, the red flag was waved. Following the initial incident, the failure of trailing drivers to heed red flags being shown at 14 and 15 (under the bridge at the crest of the hill) may have compounded the issue. Luckily, nobody was seriously injured, with the worst injury being a broken arm.[9]

Cristiano da Matta deer incident[edit]

On August 3, 2006, Cristiano da Matta, driver of Champ Car's RuSPORT team, was involved in a collision with a deer during Champ Car open testing at Road America. The deer ran in front of his car as he was heading towards turn 6. He hit the deer with his right front tire, the deer then flew back and hit da Matta in the cockpit.[10] He was unconscious when the safety crew extricated da Matta from the car[11] and was airlifted via Flight for Life to Theda Clark Medical Center south of Appleton, where he underwent surgery to remove a subdural hematoma.[12]

Death of Adam Schatz[edit]

Adam Schatz, 26,[13] from Chicago, Illinois, died in a karting accident during the Road America Super Nationals, Championship Enduro Series on July 12, 2008.

Bump drafting was a determining factor of the crash.[14]

During the end of the race, Schatz was in second place. On the main straight, shortly after the last turn, Schatz saw the kart in third position on his left and tried to pull ahead to be bumped. As he did so, the kart in fourth position bumped the third speeding the third kart up. At this point Schatz was not clear as to what was happening, and as he moved to his left, the two karts made contact.

Schatz's kart veered hard left and hit the wall. The impact sent the kart flying ten feet into the air ejecting the driver onto the track. The rest of the drivers avoided Schatz, some drivers stopped and after seeing Schatz's condition, waved to get medical help.[14]

The race was immediately stopped as medical assistance arrived on the place of the accident. Schatz had suffered brain stem and spinal cord injuries and his heart had stopped. He was revived by the doctors and taken to the Theda Clark Memorial Hospital in Neenah, Wisconsin, but his injuries proved to be too severe to survive and one week later he died.[15]

Other events[edit]

Road America is host to several non-automotive events.

In pop culture[edit]

Video games[edit]

The Road America track has been included in multiple racing video games, including the Forza Motorsport series, iRacing, and Need For Speed: Shift and its sequel, Shift 2: Unleashed. {Stock Car Evolution 2013}

Photo gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ staff (May 28, 2014). "Continental Tire Sponsors Road America Race". National Speed Sport News. Retrieved June 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  3. ^ "INDYCAR: 2013 Schedule Set To Expand". Auto-racing.speedtv.com. 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  4. ^ a b Name* (2008-08-09). "Road Rage: American LeMans". Ridelust.com. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  5. ^ PaddockTalk. "Road America To Remove Bridge and Add Tunnel :: PaddockTalk :: F1, Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, MotoGP, ALMS, And More!". PaddockTalk. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  6. ^ Christopher H. Kintner. "Mg Vintage Racers". Mgvr.org. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "report on Road America". Scenedaily.com. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  9. ^ 13:23. "OT: Multi crash @ BRIC - Road America - Ford Forums - Mustang Forum, Ford Trucks, Ford Focus and Ford Cars". Ford Forums. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  10. ^ "Articles". Speedtv.com. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  11. ^ PaddockTalk. "Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Cristiano da Matta Still in Critical Condition :: PaddockTalk :: F1, Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, MotoGP, ALMS, And More!". PaddockTalk. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  12. ^ [2][dead link]
  13. ^ "Smith-Corcoran Funeral Home: Obituary: Mr. Adam W. Schatz". Smithcorcoran.com. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  14. ^ a b The Motorsport Memorial Team, info@motorsportmemorial.org. "Motorsport Memorial". Motorsport Memorial. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  15. ^ "News". eKartingNews.com. 2008-07-22. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 

External links[edit]