Located in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, Road America is one of the most historic and beloved racetracks in North America. The circuit is famous for its long straights, challenging corners, and picturesque natural setting, making it a favorite destination for drivers, fans, and racing enthusiasts of all kinds. In this article, we will explore the history, layout, and unique features of Road America, as well as the various events and activities that take place at the track each year.
The origins of Road America date back to the late 1950s, when a group of local racing enthusiasts led by Clif Tufte decided to build a permanent road course in Elkhart Lake. At the time, the town was already a popular destination for sports car racing, with several local tracks hosting races throughout the summer months. However, Tufte and his colleagues wanted to create a world-class facility that would attract top drivers and teams from around the world.
The group found a suitable site for the track on the outskirts of Elkhart Lake, on a former military base that had been decommissioned after World War II. The location was ideal, with rolling hills, natural grandstands, and plenty of room for camping and parking. Construction began in 1955, and the first race was held on September 10, 1955, with over 10,000 spectators in attendance.
Over the years, Road America has hosted many memorable races and events, including the Can-Am Series, the SCCA Trans-Am Series, the IMSA GT Championship, and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The track has also been a popular testing and development site for many top teams, including Porsche, Audi, BMW, and Corvette.
One of the defining features of Road America is its length – at 4.048 miles, it is one of the longest road courses in North America. The track is known for its high-speed straights, which allow drivers to reach speeds of over 200 mph, as well as its challenging corners and elevation changes. The circuit features 14 turns in total, including several blind corners and a series of fast sweepers that test drivers’ skill and bravery.
In addition to the main circuit, Road America also features a karting track, a motocross track, and an off-road course. The facility is also home to several restaurants, gift shops, and other amenities, as well as a large paddock area where teams can set up and work on their cars.
One unique feature of Road America is the ability to camp on site during race weekends. The track offers a variety of camping options, from basic tent sites to fully equipped RV sites with water and electricity. The camping area is located in the middle of the circuit, offering fans a prime view of the racing action and a lively atmosphere throughout the weekend.
Road America hosts a wide variety of events and activities throughout the year, ranging from amateur track days and karting races to professional motorsport events and festivals. Some of the most popular events at the track include:
IMSA SportsCar Weekend: This annual event features races from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, as well as several support races and activities. The event attracts top teams and drivers from around the world, and is one of the most prestigious sports car races in North America.
The WeatherTech International Challenge: Held every July, this vintage racing event features over 400 historic and classic cars from around the world, racing on the full Road America circuit. The event also includes a concours d’elegance, a swap meet, and other activities for fans and enthusiasts.