Nestled in the picturesque town of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, Road America stands as a hallowed ground for motorsport aficionados in North America. This legendary racetrack boasts a rich history, a challenging layout, and an idyllic natural setting that have made it a beloved destination for racing enthusiasts, drivers, and fans. In this article, we will delve into the captivating history, layout, and distinctive features of Road America, while also uncovering nearby lodging options for those seeking the ultimate racing experience.
A Journey Through History
The story of Road America begins in the late 1950s when a passionate group of local racing enthusiasts, spearheaded by Clif Tufte, envisioned the creation of a world-class road course in Elkhart Lake. Although the town was already a hub for sports car racing, Tufte and his comrades aspired to build a permanent facility that would draw top-tier drivers and teams from around the globe.
Their vision became a reality on the outskirts of Elkhart Lake, where an old military base, retired after World War II, provided the ideal canvas. The site featured rolling hills, natural grandstands, and ample space for camping and parking. Construction commenced in 1955, culminating in the inaugural race on September 10, 1955, with a staggering 10,000 spectators in attendance.
A Playground for Legends
Road America's hallowed tarmac has witnessed countless iconic races and events, welcoming legendary series like the Can-Am Series, the SCCA Trans-Am Series, the IMSA GT Championship, and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. It has also been the crucible of testing and development for renowned racing teams such as Porsche, Audi, BMW, and Corvette.
A defining aspect of Road America is its expansive 4.048-mile length, ranking it among the longest road courses in North America. The circuit's reputation hinges on its high-speed straights, where drivers dare to reach speeds exceeding 200 mph, and its treacherous corners and elevation changes. Comprising a total of 14 turns, including several blind corners and heart-pounding sweepers, the track poses an ultimate test of a driver's skill and valor.
Beyond the Main Circuit
Road America offers more than just the iconic main circuit. It boasts a karting track, a motocross track, and an off-road course for those seeking varied motorsport experiences. The facility also houses numerous amenities, including restaurants and gift shops, along with a sprawling paddock area where teams can fine-tune their racing machines.
An exclusive feature of Road America is the opportunity to camp on-site during race weekends. With diverse options ranging from basic tent sites to fully equipped RV sites with water and electricity, the camping area is strategically positioned in the heart of the circuit. This provides fans with a prime vantage point to soak in the racing action and immerse themselves in the lively atmosphere throughout the weekend.
Year-Round Motorsport Excitement
Road America's calendar is replete with a wide spectrum of events and activities. Whether you're an amateur track enthusiast or a seasoned motorsport connoisseur, there's something for everyone. Some of the standout events at the track include:
IMSA SportsCar Weekend: An annual extravaganza featuring races from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, accompanied by support races and various activities. This prestigious event lures elite teams and drivers from across the world, making it one of North America's most esteemed sports car races.
The WeatherTech International Challenge: Held every July, this vintage racing spectacle showcases over 400 historic and classic cars from around the world, competing on the full Road America circuit. Alongside thrilling races, the event includes a concours d'elegance, a swap meet, and a treasure trove of activities for devoted fans and enthusiasts.
Where to Stay
For those planning to experience Road America in all its glory, a comfortable place to rest your head is essential. Fortunately, the Elkhart Lake area offers a range of lodging options for visitors. Here are a few noteworthy choices:
The Osthoff Resort: A luxurious lakeside resort offering elegant rooms, dining, and spa facilities, all within a short drive of Road America.
Siebkens Resort: A historic resort with a motorsport legacy, Siebkens offers cozy accommodations and an on-site bar and restaurant.
Victorian Village Resort: A charming lakeside resort offering spacious suites and amenities for a relaxing stay.
Elkhart Lake's Road America Cottages: Located just a stone's throw from the track, these cottages provide a convenient and cozy lodging option.
As you embark on your Road America adventure, rest assured that the combination of thrilling motorsport action and comfortable accommodations promises an unforgettable experience.
For further information on USA's road racing circuits, check out our comprehensive guide here.
Road America is a beacon for motorsport enthusiasts, a place where racing history intertwines with the thrill of the present. Its legendary course, beautiful surroundings, and array of events make it an absolute must-visit for anyone passionate about motorsports. With comfortable lodging options nearby, your visit to Road America promises an unforgettable journey through the heart of American racing heritage.