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. Of its annual events, 9 major weekends are open to the public which include 3 motorcycle events including the MotoAmerica (AMA FIM) series, 3 vintage car events, Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events, the United Sports Car Racing Series, the Pirelli World Challenge, and the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
Road America is one of only a handful of road circuits in the world maintaining its original configuration 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. 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.
In addition to the main course, the facility includes a 0.8-mile (1.3 km) karting track called the Road America Motorplex inside the Carousel. The Road America 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.
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. 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.
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.
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 60 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.
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 Xfinity Series race to Road America. The first race was held on June 19, 2010 and was won by Carl Edwards. In 2015, the race moved to late August during an off-weekend for the Sprint Cup Series.
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 (Ray Mulacek, 1969 Chevrolet Camaro) 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.
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.
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.