Kohler Grand Prix
|Verizon IndyCar Series|
|Distance||202.4 miles (325.731 km)|
|Previous names||Road America 200 (1982, 1987, 1989)
Provimi Veal 200 (1983–1985)
Race for Life 200 (1986)
Briggs & Stratton 200 (1988)
Texaco/Havoline 200 (1990–1999)
Motorola 220 (2000–2002)
Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America (2003)
Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America (2004)
Grand Prix of Road America (2006)
Generac Grand Prix (2007)
|Most wins (driver)||Mario Andretti (3)
Emerson Fittipaldi (3)
|Most wins (team)||Newman/Haas Racing (10)|
|Most wins (manufacturer)||Lola (12)|
The Kohler Grand Prix is an IndyCar Series race held at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. For twenty-five years, the event was part of the CART series, with the first race being held in 1982. The event was put on hiatus in 2008 after the unification of Champ Car into the Indy Racing League.
On August 8, 2015, it was announced that the race would return as part of the 2016 IndyCar Series season on June 23–26, 2016. Will Power won the race with Tony Kanaan and Graham Rahal coming in second and third respectively. The race weekend included all three series under the Mazda Road to Indy and the Pirelli World Challenge (GT/GT-A/GT Cup & GTS) as support races.
The CART Indy car series first visited Road America in 1982. Road America was one of several road and street races that was added to the series during the 1980s. Immediately the race became a popular event, owing much to the challenging, competitive, and picturesque nature of the course. Along with Milwaukee, the CART series for many years featured two stops annually in the state of Wisconsin.
Since it was added to the schedule, Road America has been the longest track utilized on the Indy car circuit. At 4.048 miles (6.515 km), fuel mileage has been a deciding factor in many races. On more than one occasion, competitors have run out of fuel within sight of victory, occasionally leading to surprise winners. In some years, rain has been a factor, again adding a difficult challenge to even the most experienced drivers.
Throughout nearly its entire history as part of the CART calendar, the race was scheduled for either August or September, usually late in the CART Indy car season. The race was oftentimes a pivotal race in the championship hunt. The race began as a 50-lap/200-mile race, but was later lengthened. In 2007 only, the race was paired in a double-header weekend with the ALMS Road America 500.
The high speeds obtained on the course have seen several major crashes. Josele Garza flipped wildly in the 1986 race and landed on the guardrail. A. J. Foyt went off in turn one in 1990, and nearly ended his career due to severe leg and ankle injuries. During a test session in 2003, Cristiano da Matta hit a deer, suffering a subdural hematoma. Katherine Legge suffered one of the most severe crashes during the 2006 race. the car lost a rear wing going into the Turn 11 Kink, and flipped into the catchfence.
In February 2003, CART officials filed a lawsuit against the promoters of the race, stating they had failed to pay sanctioning fees due from the previous year's race, and failed to make payments due for the 2003 race. On March 11, series officials cancelled the race outright. The reaction among media and fans was very negative, as many believed the series was dropping one of its marquee events. A few weeks later, the track issued a countersuit against CART, stating that the sanctioning body broke the contract by cancelling the race. Mario Andretti stepped in to mediate, and in April the two sides came together to reinstate the event. The race was renamed the "Mario Andretti Grand Prix" in his honor.
After coming back for two more seasons, Road America was left off the 2005 Champ Car schedule due to lack of sponsorship and declining attendance. Promoters, however, brought the race back for 2006 and 2007. The track was to be part of the 2008 Champ Car schedule, but it became a casualty of the 2008 open wheel unification, and went on hiatus for nearly a decade.
Despite the demanding and challenging nature of the course, Road America has been the site of the first career win for several drivers in Indy car racing. In early years, Héctor Rebaque and "Uncle" Jacques Villeneuve both scored their first and only wins in the Indy cars. In 1986, Emerson Fittipaldi won his second-career CART series race at Road America, but it was notably his first such win on a road course. In the 1990s, Paul Tracy won his first career pole position at Road America, and Jacques Villeneuve followed in the footsteps of his uncle in winning his first Indy car race here as well.
The father and son duo of Al Unser Sr. and Al Unser Jr., both champions in the CART series, notably failed to ever win at Road America, in some occasions with shocking heartbreak. That is in stark contrast to the rival Andretti family, which scored six wins at the track.
Al Sr. ran out of fuel on the final lap while leading in 1982. Al Jr. was leading handily in 1985 until he lost control in a sudden rain shower, crashed and broke his ankle. Unser Jr. crashed again in 1986, and ran out of fuel in 1988. In 1991, Unser Jr. narrowly got beat out by Michael Andretti in the final two laps. In 1996, Unser Jr. blew his engine on the final lap, two corners short of victory.
|Season||Date||Driver||Team||Chassis||Engine||Race Distance||Race Time||Average Speed
|USAC/SCCA Formula 5000|
|1974||July 28||Mario Andretti||Vel Miletich||Lola||Chevrolet||25||100 (160.93)||0:53:02||124.741||Report|
|1975||July 27||Mario Andretti||Vel Miletich||Lola||Chevrolet||25||100 (160.93)||0:54:22||110.355||Report|
|1976||July 25||Jackie Oliver||Phoenix Racing||Shadow||Dodge||25||100 (160.93)||0:58:29||102.590||Report|
|Aug 28||Brian Redman||Carl Haas/Jim Hall||Lola||Chevrolet||20||80 (128.75)||0:42:59||111.640||Report|
|Aug 29||Vern Schuppan||Earle M. Jorgensen||Lola||Chevrolet||25||100 (160.93)||0:54:38||109.816||Report|
|1982||Sep 19||Héctor Rebaque||Forsythe Racing||March||Cosworth||50||200 (321.868)||1:49:56||109.156||Report|
|1983||July 31||Mario Andretti||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Cosworth||50||200 (321.868)||2:00:42||99.41||Report|
|1984||Aug 5||Mario Andretti||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Cosworth||50||200 (321.868)||1:43:08||116.347||Report|
|1985||Aug 4||Jacques Villeneuve (Sr.)||Canadian Tire Racing||March||Cosworth||50||200 (321.868)||1:45:12||114.066||Report|
|1986||Oct 4||Emerson Fittipaldi||Patrick Racing||March||Cosworth||50||200 (321.868)||2:26:42||81.8||Report|
|1987||Aug 30||Mario Andretti||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Chevrolet||50||200 (321.868)||1:39:52||120.155||Report|
|1988||Sep 11||Emerson Fittipaldi||Patrick Racing||Lola||Chevrolet||50||200 (321.868)||1:38:11||122.215||Report|
|1989||Sep 10||Danny Sullivan||Penske Racing||Penske||Chevrolet||50||200 (321.868)||1:37:43||123.05||Report|
|1990||Sep 23||Michael Andretti||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Chevrolet||50||200 (321.868)||1:53:00||106.192||Report|
|1991||Sep 22||Michael Andretti||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Chevrolet||50||200 (321.868)||1:35:05||126.205||Report|
|1992||Aug 23||Emerson Fittipaldi||Penske Racing||Penske||Chevrolet-Ilmor||50||200 (321.868)||1:48:26||110.656||Report|
|1993||Aug 22||Paul Tracy||Penske Racing||Penske||Chevrolet-Ilmor||50||200 (321.868)||1:41:20||118.408||Report|
|1994||Sep 11||Jacques Villeneuve||Forsythe/Green Racing||Reynard||Ford-Cosworth||50||200 (321.868)||1:42:37||116.922||Report|
|1995||July 9||Jacques Villeneuve||Team Green||Reynard||Ford-Cosworth||50||200 (321.868)||1:55:29||103.901||Report|
|1996||Aug 18||Michael Andretti||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Ford-Cosworth||50||200 (321.868)||1:56:33||102.947||Report|
|1997||Aug 17||Alex Zanardi||Chip Ganassi Racing||Reynard||Honda||50||202.4 (325.731)||1:57:54||102.995||Report|
|1998||Aug 16||Dario Franchitti||Team KOOL Green||Reynard||Honda||50||202.4 (325.731)||1:35:30||127.145||Report|
|1999||July 11||Christian Fittipaldi||Newman/Haas Racing||Swift||Ford-Cosworth||55||222.64 (358.304)||1:37:00||137.697||Report|
|2000||Aug 20||Paul Tracy||Team Green||Reynard||Honda||55||222.64 (358.304)||1:37:53||136.457||Report|
|2001||Aug 19||Bruno Junqueira||Chip Ganassi Racing||Lola||Toyota||45*||182.16 (293.158)||2:00:28||90.721||Report|
|2002||Aug 18||Cristiano da Matta||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Toyota||60||242.88 (390.877)||1:56:43||124.856||Report|
|2003||Aug 3||Bruno Junqueira||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Ford-Cosworth||34*||137.632 (221.497)||1:35:28||86.493||Report|
|2004||Aug 8||Alex Tagliani||Rocketsports||Lola||Ford-Cosworth||48*||194.304 (312.701)||1:45:07||110.903||Report|
|2006||Sep 23||A. J. Allmendinger||Forsythe Racing||Lola||Ford-Cosworth||51||206.448 (332.245)||1:54:43||107.967||Report|
|2007||Aug 12||Sébastien Bourdais||Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing||Panoz||Cosworth||53||214.544 (345.275)||1:40:58||127.481||Report|
|Verizon IndyCar Series|
|2016||Jun 26||Will Power||Team Penske||Dallara||Chevrolet||50||202.4 (325.731)||1:39:10||121.426||Report|
- 2001 & 2004: Race shortened due to time limit.
- 2003: Race shortened due to darkness after 2 rain delays.
Support race winners
CART PPG Indy Car World Series
- 1982: The first CART Indy car race at Road America saw a wild second half and a surprise winner. Mario Andretti and Bobby Rahal battled for the lead early in the first half. Andretti eventually pulled out to a 28-second lead until gearbox problems put him out on lap 29. Rahal took the lead on lap 30, and was leading when rain began to fall on lap 38. With Al Unser Sr. and rookie Hector Rebaque in second and third, Rahal shockingly ran out of fuel on lap 45. Unser took the lead, but he too was low on fuel. Unser ran out of fuel on the final lap just after taking the white flag. Rebaque led the final lap and scored his first and only win in Indy car competition. Polesitter Rick Mears ran a steady fifth, and secured enough points to clinch the 1982 CART Championship.
- 1983: Josele Garza's car failed to crank on the grid due to a faulty kill switch. He joined the field dead last, and charged to fourth place by lap 38. In spectacular fashion, Garza passed Mario Andretti, Bobby Rahal, and Al Unser Jr. to take the lead on lap 40. Unser Jr. went to the grass as Garza passed him, causing Andretti and Rahal to take evasive action. Four laps later, however, Garza spun out, handing the lead to Rahal. For the second year in a row Rahal was in sight of victory, but ran low on fuel, this time dropping out on lap 47. Mario Andretti, despite clutch and gearbox issues, took the victory, his first in Indy car competition since 1981.
- 1984: Mario Andretti won the pole position, led 34 of the 50 laps, and dominated the race to win for the second consecutive year. Andretti's nearest competitors all suffered trouble, allowing Andretti to cruise to victory. Danny Sullivan suffered an engine fire, Bobby Rahal experienced fuel pickup problems, and Roberto Guerrero twice spun off course. Andretti won by a margin of over 1 minute and 14 seconds and the race went caution-free. Tom Sneva led the points standings going into the race, but blew an engine on lap 33. Andretti took over the points lead, and would go on to win the 1984 CART championship.
- 1985: Al Unser Jr. took the lead on lap 16 and was leading the race when rain started falling on lap 35. Unser Jr. was headed for the pits to put on rain tires, but lost control in the wet conditions and crashed in turn 13. Unser suffered a fractured ankle and wound up 17th. Jacques Villeneuve took the lead on lap 37, but moments later spun out in turn 5. He kept the engine running, and pulled away without losing the lead. Villeneuve led the final 14 laps to score his first and only Indy car win. It was the second time in four years a driver had scored their first career win at Road America. Substituting for the injured Mario Andretti, Alan Jones finished third, his one and only Indy car start.
- 1986: The race was scheduled for Sunday September 21. Morning rain made the track damp, but the race was started on time with all cars utilizing rain tires. Just seconds after the green flag fell, a huge downpour flooded the track and brought visibility down to near zero. Al Unser Jr. and Raul Boesel crashed in turn 11, Roberto Guerrero spun out, and Dominic Dobson hit a guardrail. Officials red flagged the race on lap 3, and postponed the resumption for Saturday October 4. After the two week delay, the race picked up on lap 3. A light rain and cold temperatures made for difficult conditions. Of the 23 cars that restarted the race, 19 were involved in crashes or spins. Danny Sullivan was leading the race on lap 32 when he spun out in turn 5. Moments later, the yellow came out for a heavy rain shower. Eighth place runner Emerson Fittipaldi quickly ducked into the pits for fuel. As the rest of the field shuffled through pits stops during the yellow, Fittipaldi, Roberto Moreno, and Jacques Villeneuve, moved to the front of the field. Moreno and Villeneuve dueled for the lead until they collided on lap 44. Fittipaldi drove by to take the win, his first Indy car win on a road course. Michael Andretti charged on the final restart from sixth place, and tried to pass for the lead on the final lap, but Fittipaldi held him off by 0.33 seconds.
- 1987: Mario Andretti won the pole position and led all 50 laps en route to victory. It was Andretti's third win at Road America. Geoff Brabham finished second in the Judd AV machine, 41 seconds behind.
- 1988: Front row starters and Penske teammates Danny Sullivan and Rick Mears both ran out of fuel on the track, as did Al Unser Jr. later on, putting all three of those drivers out of contention. Emerson Fittipaldi dominated the race, and won over second place Bobby Rahal by 9 seconds. Third place finisher Mario Andretti ran out of fuel on the cool down lap.
- 1989: Michael Andretti led Danny Sullivan in the closing laps, but both cars were running low on fuel. With two laps to go, Sullivan ducked into the pits for a slash-and-go stop for fuel. Andretti stayed out and held a 7-second lead at the white flag. Sullivan charged to catch Andretti, while Andretti was desperately conserving fuel. As they approached the Kink on the final lap, Andretti suddenly ran out of fuel. Sullivan dove to the grass to make the pass for the lead, and took the victory.
- 1990: A. J. Foyt lost his brakes going into turn one on lap 26, and went off the course, crashing through an embankment and into a ravine. Foyt suffered serious injuries to his legs and feet, and would require months of rehabilitation. After a lengthy red flag, Danny Sullivan was the leader of the race, with Michael Andretti second, and Emerson Fittipaldi third. Suddenly, on lap 39 Sullivan's gearbox failed, putting Michael Andretti into the lead. Andretti held off Fittipaldi over the final ten laps to win for the first time at Road America.
- 1991: Michael Andretti held a 19-second lead over Al Unser Jr. with two laps to go. Andretti ducked into the pits for a splash-and-go stop for fuel, and shockingly came out of the pits just ahead of Unser who was flying down the frontstretch to catch him. The two cars were nose-to-tail with a lap and a half to go when a light rain shower doused the track. Unser's car got loose in the wet conditions, and he nearly spun out in the carosel. Unser backed off the fight and Andretti held on for the victory.
- 1992: Paul Tracy qualified for the pole position, his first career pole in Indy car racing, and the 100th Indy car pole position for Penske Racing, but suffered a huge crash moments later. The car went off course in turn 13, went airborne, then crashed head on into two guardrails. Tracy was unhurt. Emerson Fittipaldi led 41 of the 50 laps, but in the closing laps it was a three-car battle for the lead. Fittipaldi led Al Unser Jr. and Bobby Rahal across the finish line. The first three cars were separated by only 1.093 seconds.
- 1993: Paul Tracy won the pole position for the second year in a row, but again suffered a serious practice crash. Tracy raced with a sore ankle, a sore neck, and bruises on his legs and feet. Tracy led 49 of the 50 laps, and beat second place Nigel Mansell by 27 seconds.
- 1994: CART series rookie Jacques Villeneuve started on the front row and won his first career Indy car victory. Paul Tracy was leading his Penske teammate Al Unser Jr. and Villeneuve when a caution came out on lap 31. On the lap 36 restart, Villeneuve made a daring pass down to the inside to pass both Unser and Tracy going into turn one. Tracy bumped Villeneuve, and then Villeneuve and Unser touched, but all three cars raced away unscathed. Tracy blew his engine on lap 44, and Villeneuve drove to victory. Al Unser Jr.'s second-place finish was enough to clinch the 1994 CART championship.
- 1995: Jacques Villeneuve started from the pole and led 46 of the 50 laps for a dominating victory. A slippery track saw many cars go off-course, but no serious crashes. Villeneuve became the third driver to win back to back races at Road America.
- 1996: A wild race from start to finish. On the opening lap, polesitter Alex Zanardi touched wheels with Gil de Ferran in turn two. Zanardi slid into the grass, and de Ferran slid through a sand barrier. André Ribeiro was involved in two major incidents. On lap 14, he collided with Greg Moore, sending Moore hard into a concrete barrier, then sliding fast into a tire barrier. Six laps later, Ribeiro was battling Mark Blundell, the two cars bumped, and Maurício Gugelmin tried to pass them. He touched wheels with Gugelmin's car, and Gugelmin cut across and took out Blundell. Under a full-course yellow, Davy Jones lost control, hit a tire barrier, and the car flipped over. Parker Johnstone also went off course and flipped over. Al Unser Jr. was leading the race on the final lap when he blew his engine with two corners remaining. Michael Andretti inherited the win, holding off Bobby Rahal at the finish line.
- 1997: Heavy rain delayed the start by two hours, and soaked the track. At the start, Gualter Salles spun at the exit of turn one, and clipped wheels with Paul Tracy. Tracy's car spun and rammed into a tire barrier, landing upside-down. Mark Blundell led the race early with Alex Zanardi in second. On lap 36, Blundell and Zanardi pitted for fuel under a caution. Zanardi had the faster pit stop, and came out of the pits first to take the lead. Zanardi led the final 15 laps, with Blundell close behind until his engine blew with two laps to go.
CART FedEx Championship series
- 1998: Swift pit work during the second round of pit stops put Dario Franchitti in the lead on lap 30. Franchitti took the lead from polesitter Michael Andretti, and led the rest of the way. Andretti lost second place on the final lap when he blew a tire and crashed hard in turn 3. It was Franchitti's first career Indy car win, and the first win for car owner Barry Green since 1995. Bryan Herta narrowly escaped injury after spinning out on lap 10, and Alex Barron crashed and landed on top of his car.
- 1999: The race was lengthened from 50 to 55 laps. Juan Pablo Montoya led 46 laps, but suffered a broken gearbox with only seven laps to go. Christian Fittipaldi took the lead and won his first-career CART series race.
- 2000: Paul Tracy started seventh, but an electrical glitch shut the engine off on the first lap. He was able to get the engine restarted, but dropped to the tail end of the field. Without the benefit of a full course caution, Tracy remarkably charged back to the front of the field. Tracy took the lead on lap 38 after Alex Tagliani suffered a seized gearbox. Tracy ran out of fuel on the cool down lap and had to be towed to victory lane.
- 2001: Rain on Saturday and Sunday morning left the track drenched with standing water. Down the backstretch toward Canada Corner, a steady stream of runoff water was cascading over the track. The race was started as scheduled, but on lap 5 Max Wilson crashed over top of Bryan Herta. The red flag was put out on lap 14, and the race would be shortened to 45 laps due to the two-hour time limit. Michael Andretti attempted to pass Christian Fittipaldi for the lead in turn five with nine laps remaining, but the two cars collided and slid high. Bruno Junqueira slipped by both cars, and drove to victory - his first in the CART series. Memo Gidley survived a horrendous crash when his car hit one of the bridge abutments.
- 2002: The race distance was lengthened for the second time, to 60 laps (240 miles). Cristiano da Matta took the lead on lap 39 during a sequence of pit stops, and led to the finish. It was de Matta's sixth victory of the season, and broke a three-race slump. It served as an important turning point towards winning the 2002 CART championship.
- 2003: A dispute between the series officials and the promoters nearly cancelled the race. However, Mario Andretti stepped in as a mediator, and the race was reinstated. Rain delayed the race twice, including a two and a half hour red flag. Ultimately, the race was shortened from 60 laps to 34 laps due to darkness. Bruno Junqueira took the lead from the pole position and led all 34 laps to win. Only 19 laps were run under green flag conditions. Points leader Paul Tracy spun out on lap 11, and was unable to continue.
Champ Car World Series
- 2004: Alex Tagliani started 13th and gambled on track position by pitting under green early in the race. The gamble paid off as a caution came out on lap 12, allowing Tagliani to shuffle closer to the front of the field. A controversial restart on lap 14 saw race leader Sébastien Bourdais held up behind the pace car, allowing second place Paul Tracy to get the jump going into turn one. The two cars touched, causing a bent suspension on Bourdais' car. In the closing laps, Alex Tagliani passed Rodolfo Lavín to take the win, his first Champ Car victory. The race was shortened from 52 laps to 48 laps due to a 1:45 time limit.
- 2006: The race returned after a one-year absence. In the closing laps, Sébastien Bourdais was leading Bruno Junqueira and A. J. Allmendinger. Bourdais was looking to win the race and clinch his third straight Champ Car championship, but he needed one final pit stop. With 7 laps to go, Bourdais ducked into the pits, and came out on the track just ahead of Allmendinger. But going into turn five, Allmendinger made the pass for the lead and pulled away. Just moments later, Katherine Legge suffered a violent crash near the Kink. The car lost part of the rear wing, sending the car into a spin and to the concrete wall at about 180 mph. The car flipped into the catch fence, broke apart, then tumbled down the track. Legge was not seriously injured, but the race was red-flagged for 42 minutes to clean up the incident. The race resumed for a two-lap sprint to the finish. A. J. Allmendinger pulled away, and Bruno Junqueira came home second.
- 2007: After coming close three previous times, Sébastien Bourdais finally won at Road America. Bourdais had just announced he was departing Champ Car at the end of the season to join Scuderia Toro Rosso in Formula One for 2008. Bourdais led 51 of the 53 laps. His closest competitors Robert Doornbos and Will Power both suffered trouble, allowing Bourdais to overpower the field. It would end up being the final Champ Car race at Road America.
- 2008: The 2008 race was scheduled for August 10, but was cancelled in the wake of the open-wheel unification.
Verizon IndyCar Series
- 2016: After a hiatus of eight years, Road America returns to the open wheel schedule as part of the IndyCar Series.
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