Road America is a 4 mile road course located near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The track is building a new complex inside of the carousel with a variety of facilities for motorcycle and other usage. There is a sprint cart facility with a multi-configuration road course and oval operating under the name "Briggs and Stratton Motorplex".
Last Updated: 2006-03-08
Road America is one of the oldest road courses in the United States. Elkhart Lake was, much as was Watkins Glen, a summer resort area much favored by, among others, gentlemen sports-car drivers from around Chicago. Open-road races were held from 1950 through 1952 on the highways through and around Elkhart Lake, with many of the founding and early members of SCCA's Chicago Region taking part in these races. Following the disastrous crash by Pierre Levegh's Mercedes-Benz into the crowd at Le Mans in 1953, many states -- including Wisconsin -- passed legislation banning racing on public roads, and the Elkhart Lake road races were no more.
Road America was built in 1955 as a replacement venue, by a corporation headed by Cliff Tufte and financed largely by Chicago Region members. The first race was held in September of 1955. Races drew large and enthusiastic crowds during the 1950s and 1960s, although there were only two or three events held each year, all organized by the Chicago Region of the SCCA. Confounding the pollsters and demographics experts, more than 90% of the attendees at these races came from within 50 miles of the track.
By the mid-1970s the track began to need additional sources of income, and began to more events there each year, and events held by other organizations. The Milwaukee and Chicago Regions of the SCCA began to hold Drivers' Schools, Regionals, and more Nationals and Professional series races, and the Midwestern Council also began to race there, and various marque clubs began to hold events there. Currently the AMA, CART, IMSA, and the SCCA hold spectator Professional series races at Road America every year, some of which are televised. With the advent of more Professional series racing, the competitor's and spectator's facilities have undergone continuous improvement, and Road America remains today one of the premier road racing tracks in the world.
Road America, Inc.
N 7390 Highway 67
Elkhart Lake, WI 53020
414-892-2663 (After Hours)
The track shipping address is:
N7390 Highway 67
Elkhart Lake WI 53020
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Road America is easily accessible by car from all Midwestern locales, and by air from around the world. Just 20 minutes from Sheboygan County Airport, Road America lies midway between Milwaukee and Green Bay on Wisconsin Highway 67 . . . an hour from Milwaukee, three hours from Chicago, five hours from Minneapolis and eight from Detroit. Wherever you are, there's an easy way to get to Road America.
Take I-94 to Milwaukee and into downtown Milwaukee to I-43 going north. Stay on I-43 north to Hwy. 57 going north to Plymouth. Go north on Hwy. 57 to County "J" (2 miles north of Plymouth). Turn left (west) on County "J" and go about 3 miles to Hwy. 67. Turn right (north) on Hwy. 67 and the entrance is about a mile north on the left side. (Approximate Travel Time: 3 Hours)
Take I-94 east to mauston, WI. At Mauston take Hwy. 82 east to Hwy 23 going east. Stay on Hwy. 23 to Hwy. 67 which will be in Plymouth. Turn Left (north) on Hwy. 67 and Road America is about 4 miles north on the left side of Hwy. 67. (Approximate Travel Time: 5 Hours)
Take Hwy. 151 to Fond du Lac. Take 23 east to Plymouth. From Plymouth take Hwy 67 north to Elkhart Lake. Road America is 4 miles north of Plymouth on Hwy. 67 to the left hand side of the road. (Approximate Travel Time: 2 Hours)
Take I-43 north (Green Bay) to Hwy 57 north (Plymouth) to County Trunk "J". Turn left (west) on "J" to Hwy. 67. Turn right (north) on Hwy. 67. Road America gates are 2 miles on left side of Hwy. 67. (Approximate Travel Time: 1 Hour)
Take your best route to Madison, WI. In Madison take Hwy 151 north to Fond du Lac. In Fond du Lac turn right on Hwy. 23. Take Hwy. 23 east to Hwy. 67 which will be in Plymouth. Turn left (north) on Hwy. 67 and Road America is about 4 miles north on the left side of Hwy. 67. (Approximate Travel Time: 3 Hours)
Enter the track at the Competitor's Gate, about a hundred feet west of the main gate (Gate 1) and just west of the farmhouse. There are four buildings west of this entrance, registration is in a new building and Tech in the older metal building to the east (closest to the farmhouse).
After leaving registration, proceed through the gate in the fence just west of the barn -- you're usually asked to show your credentials there -- then west (right) along the access road to the bridge over the track, cross the bridge, and follow the access road back east to the steep hill leading up to the paddock areas. At spectator events, you'll be asked for your credentials again here. (In the evenings, the access road may be open directly across the track.) It is not necessary to cross the track surface to enter and leave the paddocks.
There are four named paddock areas at Road America; the grassy area to the east at the bottom of the hill is the North Paddock; the grassy area with paved access roads at the top of the hill is the Competition Paddock; the paved area to the south and east is the New Paddock; and the grassy area to the south and west is the South Paddock (used only for that June SCCA National with the copyrighted name). If you set up in the New Paddock, do not spill oil or gasoline onto, and do not poke holes into, the paved surface. There are two pit areas, along the Competition Paddock and the New Paddock; competitors are sometimes required to use only the New Pits. The paddock areas can conveniently accomodate four hundred competitors while leaving plenty of room for spectator parking.
Leaded and unleaded racing fuel are available at the station near the center of the Competition Paddock, and the tire concessions are located just southwest of the gas station. Water is available along the pit fence in the Competition Paddock. The sanitary facilities at Road America are archaic (yes, they are the pits). The food from the concession buildings at each end of the Competition Paddock is very good -- in fact, it's legendary; but as with most legends, does not quite measure up to expectations. Air is available from the tire concessions, and there is a souvenir stand which carries film and ice. Additional food and souvenir stands are open around the entire track property during spectator events. The medical building is south of the concession stand at the south end of the competition Paddock. Scales are located in the impound area, behind and near the center of the Competition Pits.
This Hot Lap was written by James Furstenburg of the wheeltowheel mailing list.
Here goes...I do not consciously keep track of a lot of detailed markers so these may look more like general impressions. I hope they help some...I am by no means a pro driver...your mileage may vary.
Remember that I am driving a mini-cooper vintage race car on 10' diameter A008s and my braking and handling will not be the same as more modern cars with brake rotors over 7.5" and useful rear brakes.
General notes: Road America is 4 miles per lap, 14 corners. Three flat out straights. From various club schools and Skip Barber Schools, there are orange marks at the apexes [editor's note: the orange marks disappeared with the 1995 repaving of the track, but may reappear at a later date -- rpw]. Usually these are a little late for the safety of the students.
RA has several high speed corners...these are the important ones. There are several slow corners which are throwaways
The throwaways are corners 5,6 and 8.
The most important fast corners are 7, the carousel, the Kink 13 and 14.
Starting from Corner 14 (the last) instead of the end of the pits because it is more representative.
From 14 you end up on the front or pit straight. The straight is uphill for a good portion so you gain speed somewhat gradually until it levels out about 60% of the way to 1. I will close to my maximum speed (say 110-115) entering the braking area. You can brake later than you initially think. Braking at the 3 marker is pretty safe. Corner 1 is wide and fast and for me is taken in third gear, turning in at about the apex or a little late. Apex slightly before the orange marks on the pavement.
You drift out to the exit and slowly get back toward the center. There is a short straight stretch here and a very slight bend (corner 2) which can be ignored if you got back toward the center of the track to concentrate on corner 3. Corner 3, although slower than 1 is still a 3d gear corner for me and pretty wide. Again a slightly late apex is preferable. Drift out all the way...trying to maintain as much speed a possible, you are no entering the fastest straight.
Drift toward the center of track crossing under the bridge. There is a slight ben in the track (corner 4) which can be treated as the straight. This straight is downhill and very fast. You want to keep to the right as you approach the slowest corner on the track, turn 5. Go in as deep as you dare. I dare around 3.5 to 4. This is a good place to outbrake someone to pass. 2d gear for me.
From 5 to 6 is a steep uphill climb, a good place to pass if you took 5 correctly and have lots of power.
Turn 6 is slow (2d gear, sometimes 3d) and the apex is blind under the bridge. Either brake early before the car starts to rise over the crest of after you come down. You have very short time to brake for the corner if you wait till you come back down on the suspension. Apex late and stand on it.
Short shift to 3d or stay in 3d and stay flat on the power. Turn 7 is a right hand sweeper which looks like you should lift or brake and if you do not hit the apex you should have lifted or braked. If you take the corner correctly it is flat out. Apex is not late here.
Coming out of 7 you will be going downhill flat out toward 8. I am able to get into 4th gear here briefly, before breaking real hard around 1.5 marker to 2 for 8. 8 is a slow 2d or maybe 3d gear corner,depending on gearing. The stretch between 7 and 8 is also good for passing and outbraking.
After you have drifted wide for 8 get toward the left center of track to set up for the entrance to the Carousel, I am in third for the entrance turn 9, when in the carousel stay a cars width toward the center of the track and slowly track inward until you can see the exit, then stand on it. The Carousel is pretty fast. I am at 6600 to 7000 in third through the corner.
As soon as I straighten out at the exit of the Carousel I am in 4th gear and accelerating hard toward turn 11, the Kink. Passing also occurs sometimes in this straight if someone has enough power.
The kink is a very fast 4th gear right hand corner. If I take it just right, I can stay on the power all the way through the corner and not lift. If I don't feel too great that day, I may lift or tap the brakes. I apex right on the alligator teeth on the inside, they are very small and do not upset the car. DO NOT LIFT OR BRAKE ONCE YOU ARE IN THE CORNER OR IT WILL COST YOU A BUNDLE! It is very important to take the kink fast as it sets you up for the next fastest straight on the course.
Turn 11A is a gentle bend to the right and left and can be taken without lifting. I brake around 3 to 4 for corner 12, a 2d or 3d gear corner. Going into 12 or Canada Corner is a great place to pass. Although if you do not take the corner smoothly, you will be passed coming out.
After you straighten out, get back toward the right side of the track to set up for 13. You are going uphill from 12 to 13 and the apex at 13 is blind and under a bridge. You turn in late and under the bridge and by the way turn 13 is flat out if you take it correctly. You will then drift out all the way to the grass, (just where Paul Tracy lost it last year and ended up near a motor home) Stay on the gas and get back to the left to enter 14, you may upshift to 4th here (or you may not). Tap the brakes sort of hard and late, I use no markers here, just judgment, as you enter 14 and apex a little late. Try to maintain as much speed as possible to get up the big hill on the main straight.
Well, that was fun, I can't wait to try it for real around the 20th of May at the SVRA event.
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