GingerMan Raceway is a new road course built in 1995, which opened for its first full season in 1996. The track is 1.88 miles long and 36 feet wide with a variety of elevation changes, twists and turns to challenge any driver. It was designed specifically as a club racing course with wide smooth paving and clear runoffs to avoid vehicle damage even when amateur drivers become overenthusiastic.
The track is located in southwestern Michigan, 6 miles east of the Lake Michigan resort community of South Haven. The area around the track has interesting diversions for family members who maybe don't quite understand the passion that keeps us at the track for days. You can all enjoy the good restaurants, friendly B&Bs, interesting shopping and, of course, the dunes, beaches, boats, fishing, swimming and other watersports provided by Lake Michigan. Festivals and concerts are frequent attractions in the area.
Sports car groups including the Midwestern Council of SCC, an SCCA region, Viper Club, PCA and BMW CCA used the course in 1996. AHMRA vintage and GLRRA and WERA motorcycles and several racing kart groups are regular weekend promoters. GingerMan track owner Dan Schnitta presented an event for local stock car short track racers and a successful vintage/historic race meet. The course is very spectator friendly, with several observation areas that overlook the entire course.
The information in this page was written by Ross Fosbender. Ross has raced since 1965 and instructed new race drivers since 1967. He has had a national F&C ticket and was co-chairman of the first ever sports car races at GingerMan in May, 1996.
Last Updated: 2005-04-22
As a brand new track, GingerMan has little history at this point, but the track is named for a bar in Chicago near Wrigley Field; the track is being built by the owner of the bar.
61414 Phoenix Rd.
South Haven, MI 49090
The terraserver link shows the track, operational but still with evidence of construction, in 1997.
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From I-94 and I-196 near Benton Harbor, Michigan, go north on I-196 for 20 miles to Exit 20 (Phoenix Road). Turn right (east) on Phoenix Road 5.5 miles to GingerMan Raceway on your left.
A new Registration building at the front gate gives good shelter and allows an easy flow of drivers. Tech Inspectors have a level concrete pad for scales and several options for setting up their tech line, but no shelter yet.
Stewards, Central Control and T&S occupy moveable stands (stripped out school busses fitted with desks along one side). Some organizers put the start/finish line between turns 10 and 11; others on the 11-1 straight. There are safe, level bus parking spots at both locations.
F&C workers are unshaded to date, though permanent corner canopies are planned. Armco and earth barriers protect and raise the corner stations. Corner to corner vision is very good- so good that it is possible to skip some corners if staff is in short supply. The only oddities for F&C are that the Starter can act as the flagman for turns 1 or 11, depending on the S/F line location. Also, you probably want to station your Safety people for T11 cross track. There is a break in the Armco so they can stand in safety until they are needed.
Portable toilets were used in 1996, though the track owner has permanent toilets and a timing stand planned for construction in 1997. Rustic camping is free on the track grounds. There are no hook-ups. Fires are allowed only in grills or on other raised platforms. Family bathrooms with showers are available for race staff only.
Starting on the front straight, carry speed up the straight as far as possible, but still treat turn 1 as a classic turn. Do not brake any more than necessary. Turn 1 can be taken very fast. There are some bumps in the braking area and at the turn-in point. You may want to straddle them or move in from the track edge for your turn-in.
Accelerate across the turn 1 apex to a mid-track turn-in point midway through turn 2. Brake slightly, turn in and start early acceleration in the increasing radius right hander. The uphill turn will give you more traction than you will expect. Hit a very late apex and continue accelerating hard toward turn 3. Turn 3 is a constant radius, slightly downhill 140 degree right. Do not late brake here. Set up for strong acceleration across a late apex. Be ready for the car to get light as the track drops away leaving turn 3.
Holding flat, ease to the right edge of the track coming out of turn 3. Ease left to the apex of turn 4 and straight to the right track edge approaching turn 5. Do not lift from the turn-in for 3 until you brake for turn 5.
Novices: As you start out, brake hard along the right edge of the track to slow for turn 5. Turn in and gas for a moment and brake again to slow for turn 6. From center of the bumpers on the right edge of the track, turn in and accelerate hard across a late apex on turn 6. You must get well into the bumpers on the inside of turn 6.
Experienced racers: Carry speed on the 3-5 straight almost to an early apex on turn 5. Trail brake around turn 5 to the right edge of the track to the turn-in point for turn 6. Turn in hard and accelerate across a late apex on turn 6. Novice or expert: If you find yourself on the right bumpers coming out of turn 6, move your turn-in a little further into the turn and be absolutely sure you are getting well into that apex.
Turn 7 is a classic late turn-in, late apex turn, but then you keep sweeping to the right hugging the right edge of the track under full acceleration through turn 8. Hold right longer than you think you should and then cut left for a late apex in turn 9. You cannot make up a lot of lap time here, but you can lose a bunch easily. The trick is to go as slow as you have to, to be on the left track edge under complete control coming out of turn 9, to set up for turn 10.
Turn 10 is the most important on the course. The key is early hard acceleration. Move your turn-in/acceleration point back as far as you can. Be hard on the gas from the time you turn in. Use all the track. Hit a medium-late apex and honk down the 10-11 straight.
Turn 11 is another classic turn and the wide smooth track allows lots of speed through it. The Armco at track-out tries to intimidate. Don't let it. Carry lots of speed and use all the track. The front straight is the longest of the course, but uphill and not quite as fast as the back straight between 10-11.
Start another lap. Remember the key is to carry speed as long as possible on the straights. This makes the corners important in this sequence: 10, 11, 3, 5-6, 2, 1, 7, 9, 8. Refine your driving in this order for the fastest improvement in lap times. Good luck. You will have fun!
Camping is available at the track (no hookups) and at VanBuren State Park, 23960 Ruggles Rd., South Haven 616-637-2788.
Consider looking for hotels in Kalamazoo, Michigan, 20 miles east, where prices may be cheaper and rooms more readily available.
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