Road America is a 640-acre, world-class motorsports facility
featuring a 14-turn, 4.048-mile permanent road course and a
1-mile supermoto/karting track. Since its first official race in
September of 1955, it has been a favorite circuit of racers
worldwide who relish the challenges of the undulating landscape
and the high-speed turns and curves on the 4.048-mile track. Over
800,000 racing fans return every year to enjoy the park-like
atmosphere, fantastic food, and wheel-to-wheel competition by the
world’s fastest riders and drivers.
How many events take place at Road America?
Over 500 public and private events are held annually at Road
America, rain or shine. The facility often hosts multiple
activities on the same day incorporating the four-mile track, the
interior Motorplex, and the beautiful grounds surrounding
the facility. In addition to public events that are open to
spectators, the facility is in use by various private car and
motorcycle clubs, organizations, group programs, and driving and
What is the closest Airport to Road America?
Sheboygan County Memorial Airport (private jets, smaller
aircraft) within 10 minutes.
Always include the first and last name of the recipient and their
Attn: John Smith / Team Racing
N7390 Hwy. 67
Plymouth, WI 53073
Please include the phone number of the recipient.
Packages can be picked up at the Shipping and Receiving
building (near Gate 6). Hours vary and are posted at
There is a $5 fee per package at the time of pick up.
Does Road America have electric vehicle charging stations?
Yes, we have one Tesla Charger on-site, call 800-365-7223 for
location and operating times.
Parking & Seating
Do you have reserved seating?
Road America’s key attraction is that there is no assigned
grandstand seating, and fans are free to roam about the property
to find their favorite track viewing location. Trees are
everywhere, plus acres of green grass, rolling hills, seven jumbo
screens, and elevated vantage points that offer fans totally
unique perspectives to watch the action. No two races are the
same and no two viewing destinations at Road America are the
same! There are benches built into the hillsides for seating.
You can carry in blankets or folding chairs as well as
spectate from open grass general admission areas around the
facility. Road America truly is, America’s National Park of Speed
and the 2021 Best NASCAR Track as voted on by USA Today readers!
Can I bring my own chair to the general admission viewing
Collapsible folding chairs are allowed through the gates for use
in the general admission areas. They are not allowed into the
physical grandstand seating locations. Fans are discouraged
from reserving viewing areas by placing chairs, EZ-Ups, or
ropes. Any items left up or out overnight in general
admission areas will be removed and confiscated by security.
Is there a charge for parking?
General admission parking is FREE with the purchase of a ticket.
Preferred Parking passes can be purchased for $25. The Preferred
Parking Pass is a Thursday-Sunday designated parking area with
easy walk-in access to the paddock. Road America reserves the
right to charge for general admission parking for select special
All spectators will be parked during the IndyCar and
NASCAR events in a designated parking area with easy walk-in
access to the paddock. In the parking area nearest to the Main
Gate, we encourage fans to park along the newly planted tree
rows, with cars facing North to South to allow for more
parking and easier entry and exit.
Is Road America car-friendly?
Yes, very. During most events, aside from INDYCAR,
NASCAR, and IMSA where
facility access is restricted, if you need a break from walking,
you can pretty much use your car to get around, as long as you
keep clear of the paddock. For the big events a golf cart is the
best way to get around and you can rent those in advance.
Purchase your golf cart reservation when buying your tickets to
The parking areas are filled with not just ‘nice’ cars, but
obscure, rare, fantastic vehicles of all shapes and sizes. The
close proximity to Chicago (about a two-and-a-half-hour drive)
and active local enthusiast community puts on a gathering of cars
that rivals anywhere else in the United States.
How will parking work for NASCAR Cup on (Sunday) July 3rd?
Due to anticipated increased volume, convenient parking is
available for a fee at Road America. Please
anticipate purchasing a parking pass along with
On race day, (Sunday, July 3rd),
fans should anticipate congestion while traveling to/from
and around Road America. Remember to arrive
early, and carpooling is highly recommended. Fans are
also encouraged to park for FREE at the Sheboygan
County Fairgrounds (229 Fairview Dr., Plymouth, WI
53073). A FREE shuttle will be available to transport fans
to/from Road America on Sunday only.
Fans who wish to park on-site at Road America on Sunday, July
3rd, will need to purchase a parking pass in
On Sunday, July 3rd, fans who have purchased on-site parking
passes in advance are encouraged to arrive early at the
gate closest to where they intend to park to help
facilitate their entry and exit. Upon entry, attendants will be
directing fans to the parking areas closest to their entry gate
to park for the event.
When exiting the event: To help ease
traffic concerns, we recommend exiting at the closest gate to
your parking location.
– Anyone exiting at the Main Gate will be
directed to turn right and head South on State Highway 67.
– Anyone exiting Gate 5 will be directed to turn
left and head North on State Highway 67.
– Anyone exiting Gate 3 will be directed to turn
left and head East on County Road J.
– Anyone exiting Gate 4 will be directed to turn
right and head West on County Road J.
How will motorcycle parking work for NASCAR Cup on (Sunday) July
On Sunday, July 3rd, motorcycles are encouraged to enter at Gate
3. Limited space will be available on the South end of the VIP
tower parking lot for motorcycles.
Due to series and safety protocols, facility access for
motorcycles, mopeds, and scooters will be restricted. We
encourage all riders to respect the rules of the event and follow
instructions from parking and security personnel.
Are trailers permitted at Road America?
Spectator trailers are not permitted. Road America reserves the
right to deny trailer access to the property. Any trailers for
commercial purposes entering the property are subject to
inspection by Road America staff.
Does Road America search vehicles?
Road America staff reserves the right to search all property and
vehicles entering the facility.
What is spectating like at Road America?
Spectating is a race fan’s paradise, and it’s quicker to get
around and watch from different vantage points. Modern racetracks
seem to be built to keep the fans outside and make them walk the
longest way around. Road America is not one of those tracks as
you can move about the property freely from all over the inside
of the facility. When you walk from section to section and
it feels like you’re entering different ecosystems.
Can I reserve a viewing spot overnight with my lawn chair or
Fans are discouraged from reserving viewing areas by placing
EZ-Ups, canopies, lawn chairs, etc. Any items left up or out
overnight in general viewing areas will be removed and
confiscated by security.
Tickets & Admission
Can anyone attend a club event?
Each club/organization determines whether the public will have
access to the event and, if so, sets the admission fees.
If you are interested in Club Events, please contact the club
directly using the links on our Events Schedule.
Do you ever sell out tickets?
Due to the size of our facility, we do NOT sell out of
What access does a general admission ticket give me?
All tickets include access to the paddock and free general
parking. The NASCAR paddock is closed to the public during the
Daily tickets, weekend tickets, and a Season Pass all provide the customer with
access to the paddock, general admission grandstands as well as
numerous other seating options and free general parking.
What are the ticket prices for children?
Children 16 and under receive FREE admission to all Road America
events with a paying adult and photo ID.
Anyone over the age of 16 is the same price as an
adult. This also applies to all camping prices.
Where can I find information on camping?
Road America allows spectator tent or motorhome camping during
major public events. Additional fees apply and advance
reservations are recommended, order online or call 800-365-7223.
In addition to providing numerous campsite and RV options, there
are also 12 permanent bathroom/shower facilities on site.
Can I park at my campsite?
Yes, if you have a camping parking pass.
What is the paddock? Where is it located and do fans
The Paddock is an area centralized to what is commonly known as
the pits in motorsports in which the teams keep their race
transporters and motor homes. Aside from
NASCAR and certain events, Road America’s paddock is open to
spectators. Road America’s main paddock is located South of the
Paddock Concessions Stand and East of the Hagerty Tech Center and
West of the pit lane.
General admission ticket includes walk-in access to the
paddock. Fans can get an up-close look at the drivers,
crews, cars, and equipment during most events.
Vendors and concessions are available. Fans can take photos
and get autographs.
Remember: Racecars have the right of way!
Does Road America offer autograph sessions?
Road America includes autograph sessions in the major public
Please check the event schedules for dates and times.
Does Road America offer on-track touring for motorcycles?
The Salute to Cycles parade, offered on Friday, June 3, 2022
gives spectators the opportunity to ride their own motorcycles on
the track for a minimal fee. Admission to the event is sold
separately (16 and under are free with paying adult & photo ID.)
The cost is per person/per day. The amount of time that you will
spend on the track varies. The motorcycles have a lead
motorcycle/pace car, as well as a pace car in the rear, and is a
controlled lapping session. You must participate in a riders
safety meeting before the parade. Road America highly recommends
the use of helmets, however, special riding equipment is not
required. Cars, SUVs, vans, trucks, campers, buses, etc.
are NOT allowed on the track. We recommend making an
advance reservation either online or by calling our offices at
800-365-7223. Touring is held rain or shine. No
refunds or exchanges.
Another option to take your motorcycle on the Road
America track is through our Sunset Cruise program which runs April
through October. Get an up-close look at Road America’s
legendary race circuit from your own car or motorcycle (on select
dates). This activity is a leisurely, low-speed, 3-lap experience
of the sweeping, rolling 4-mile track. It is the perfect
opportunity for drivers, families, and friends of all ages to
experience, first-hand, one of the country’s premier road-racing
circuits. Participation is limited, so advance
registration is highly recommended.
Does Road America offer on-track touring for cars only?
Touring gives spectators the opportunity to drive their own
streetcars on the track for a fee. The cost varies by event and
is per car / per day. Touring is offered during several public
events. Admission into the event is sold separately (16 and under
is free with a paying adult & photo ID). You may have passengers
in the car — state laws apply (safety belts and child restraints
required). The amount of time that you will spend on the track
and speeds vary. Touring is a controlled lapping session with a
pace car leading and in the rear — no passing is allowed. You
must participate in a technical inspection (proper air pressure
in the tires, no leaking fluids, etc.) and drivers’ safety
meeting before the touring session. SUVs, vans, trucks, campers,
buses, motorcycles, etc. are NOT allowed on the track.
Space is limited to the first 200 cars per day and space sells
out fast. We recommend making an advance reservation when you
purchase your event tickets either online or by calling our
offices at 800-365-7223.
Touring is held rain or shine. No refunds or
What activities are available for fans at events?
Fan activities vary by event and details are always included in
the event schedule.
Vendors and displays are available throughout the paddock.
Karting at the Road America Motorplex.
Family Fun Zone – check the event schedule for locations.
Paddock Shop for apparel and gifts
Big Screens – check event schedules for details
What should I wear when attending an event at Road America?
Road America is a large facility with a mix of large open spaces
and shaded wooded areas including grass, gravel, pavement,
trails, and hills. With this in mind, comfortable walking shoes
and sun protection are recommended. If you forget your
sunscreen it is available for purchase at the Paddock Shop.
Racing continues either rain or shine and weather conditions
change rapidly in Wisconsin. Clear skies give way to fast-moving
clouds, haze, and summer showers, before clearing again in the
same afternoon. Don’t forget sweatshirts, jackets, or rain gear
if the forecast calls for rain. The Paddock Shop has umbrellas
and other rain-protection apparel available for purchase.
For certain events, hot pit/hot garage access requires specific
attire including long pants and closed-toed shoes. Check with the
event schedule before arriving.
Where Are Some Popular Viewing Locations?
This turn ranks among Road America’s top vantage points. The
tight corner is a prime overtaking spot and leads to the
dramatic climb up to Turn 6. While plopping down in the grassy
meadow to the drivers’ right of the corner is a popular
option, you can also try the hillside between Turns 5 and 6.
For an added bonus, you’ll be able to track the cars half a lap
later as they pop up from Thunder Valley and whistle
through Turn 13 into Turn 14 before commencing their climb
up the start/finish straightaway.
Turn 3 to Turn 5
There’s little to be gleaned in terms of who’s going fast
and why. From Turn 3 to Turn 5, the cars steam past at top
speed. The sheer sensations of seeing, hearing, and – yes –
feeling high performance cars flashing through the forest is not
to be missed.
Canada Corner (Turn 12)
A tight bend at the end of a long straight section, with amazing
viewing angles. It’s a great spot for overtakes and
challenging for the drivers, who must negotiate a slight
left turn under heavy braking, before making the sharp right turn
through the apex.
Thunder Valley (Turn 13)
Out of Canada Corner, drivers open the throttle to blast through
a section named for the way the engine sounds reverberate against
the forest and signage. It’s a spectacular way to get close
to the cars as they launch out of the corner under
full acceleration. Both this section and Canada Corner are
on the shaded, heavily wooded path that provides a welcome
relief from the mid-day sun.
Road America Straight
Even the main straight at Road America is uniquely challenging.
Drivers approach the start/finish line and flag-stand blind and
must crest a steep uphill section before it comes into view.
The Carousel (Turns 9 & 10)
Head to the inside of The Carousel at Road America to watch
and time the cars as they accelerate out of Turn 8, pass under
the bridge, and arc gently downhill through 240 degrees
of race track before passing directly below you en route to one
of the most famous turns in motorsports “The Kink.”
The bridge is a convenient point to start your watch, and you’ll
easily find a bush, tree, or some other (stationary) feature
on the exit of the turn to serve as the finish line for your
“section timing” exercise; one that will make abundantly clear
which cars are gaining (or losing) time negotiating The
Carousel and thus carrying the most speed into The Kink on down
through Kettle Bottoms to Canada Corner.
Outside of Turn 7
Stand eye level with the track surface and can look straight
through the apex. From there you can watch the cars turn in,
roll slightly, change direction and maybe even induce some
slip from the rear as they make their way around. You’re low
enough to see daylight under the race cars and close enough
to hear the tires. You can see the suspension at work, and
pick out which drivers are committed, and who’s using the curbs.
The best part is that like most of the great spots at Road
America, you don’t need special accreditation to see this,
it’s open to everyone.
Access Around the Facility
Can I bring my own golf cart, ATV, dirt bike, etc?
Spectators are NOT allowed to bring off-road vehicles
on the property. Personal golf carts, ATV’s and unlicensed
vehicles are NOT allowed on Road America property.
Bicycles or street-licensed mopeds are acceptable modes of
transportation around the facility but are not allowed in the
paddock. Roller skates, roller blades, scooters (motorized or
non-motorized), and personal golf carts
are NOT allowed. Rent golf
carts from Road America for all public events. Golf carts are
available for reservations on all event ticket pages.
Are alcoholic beverages available at Road America?
Beer and wine are available for purchase at our concession
stands. Turn 1 concession stand does serve mixed drinks and
Are pets allowed on the premises?
Pets are strongly discouraged. You must remember that this is a
It is Road America’s policy that should you absolutely need to
bring your pet, it must be kept under the control of a leash or
in your vehicle with adequate ventilation, food, and water.
Pets are NOT allowed unattended in the campground. You
must pick up and dispose of waste left behind by your pet.
Should the pet cause harm or become a disturbance to other
spectators, it will be grounds for ejection from the park without
a refund. Pets are NOT permitted in Paddock areas
during spectator events.
Can I bring my own food and drink to Road America?
Carry-ins are allowed into the property. We ask that you refrain
from bringing your own beverages/coolers into the concession
stands and seating areas around the stands.
You can bring your own beverages, food, grills, and coolers and
have a picnic in the open grass areas or if you are camping
We ask that you do not bring glass into the property and that you
dispose of charcoal in the properly labeled containers.
Keep in mind that Road America is known for its great food at
several concession stands around the property.
What concessions are available at Road America?
Paddock Concessions / Parker John’s BBQ and
New to the track is Parker John’s BBQ & Wings located in the
Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork
Jumbo Smoked Chicken Wings
Massive Loaded Baked Potatoes
Famous Wisconsin Fried Cheese
Soft-Serve Ice Cream
Beer, Soda & Water
Plymouth Optimists – Located inside Turn 6:
Nachos with cheese
Selection of 10 different beers
Soda & Water
Elkhart Lake Lions – Located at the top of the hill
overlooking Turns 5 and 13:
Steamed cob of corn with butter
and your choice of seasonings
1/3 lb. Schnitzel burger sandwich
with pepper jack cheese
Beer, Soda & Water
Lakeland University’s Launch Pad – Student
Operated - Located outside Turn 12:
The Launch Pad, operated by Launch: (Lakeland University
Student-Run Businesses), is cooking up all your track
favorites. Support young entrepreneurs! Visit the Launch
Pad, above Turn 12.
Enjoy views of Turns 5 and 14 from the large patio and bench
seating area. An A.T.M and ice are also available at The Gear Box
Famous Egger Sandwiches
Awesome RGP potatoes
Roasted sweet corn
Signature T.K.A sandwich
Wood-fired pulled pork & brisket
cooked in an on-site BBQ pit
Beer, Soda & Water
Gear Box II – Located by the Carousel and Motorplex
Campers, let them do your cooking for you! They
also offer campfire wood while supplies last. An A.T.M and
ice are also available at The Gear Box II concession stand.
Famous Egger Sandwiches
Gearbox Melt signature
Beer, Soda & Water
Altona at Turn 14:
Altona / Turn 14 – The Legendary Altona Supper Club of New
Holstein is located at the last Turn (Turn 14). Come say hi to
the Altona Staff and get some great food & beverages for a great
Famous patty melts
BBQ pulled pork
Ham & cheese
Mac & cheese
Beer, Soda & Water
Los Amigos Locos at Turn 1:
Head on down to Los Amigos Locos on the outside corner of Turn 1
to experience the track’s only authentic Mexican
cuisine. Let the kids enjoy the Family Fun Zone next door to
Los Amigos and some of our kid-friendly items on the menu.
Breakfast tacos & sandwiches
Kids Items: grilled cheese, hot
dogs, french fries, hand-scooped ice cream and treats such as the
Spongebob popsicle and rainbow pops
Liquor (margaritas, bloody mary’s)
Beer, Soda & Water
Perl’s on The Hill:
Enjoy the view from the top of the hill and see racing action
from Turns 6, 7, 8, and 9 up at Perl’s on the Hill. Find a
seat under the covered patio dining space and enjoy a day of fast
racing and great food.
Track’s largest nacho grande
Cedar Crest ice cream in a waffle
Breakfast sandwiches all day
Beer, Soda & Water
WIN Tunnel – Near the VIP Tower along the front
Antoinette’s at the Win Tunnel features all your race track
favorites. Visit Antoinette’s at the Win Tunnel next to the
Mac & Cheese with homemade sauce:
choices are Original, Chicken Bacon Ranch, Southwest,
Buffalo, and Johnsonville Brat
Liquor, Beer, Soda & Water
Antoinette’s at Turn 3:
Antoinette’s at Turn 3 features their famous dishes served at
their restaurant in downtown Plymouth. Visit Antoinette’s at
Turn 3 across from the Corvette Corral.
You can use your cell phone at Road America, but keep in mind
that service areas vary, and access declines as the number of
people attending an event increases. Road America does not have
cell phone charging stations. Do not rely on your cell phone
if you need to relay or receive important information.
Do you have camping at Road America?
Road America does allow spectator tent or motorhome camping
during major public events.
We recommend that you make advance reservations. You can make
your reservations online or by contacting the Road America
offices at 800-365-7223. See Camping
for more information.
How do I contact someone at the race in the event of an
In the case of an emergency, please contact security at
What services are offered if I have a medical issue?
Mobile medical teams patrol the facility. If you or another guest
are in need of medical assistance, contact Security
(920-892-2663), a Road America representative, or concession
stand employee so they can contact the Medical staff. There is a
permanent medical unit located in the competition paddock near
the Paddock gift shop.
What to do if my child and I become separated?
Contact an RA security representative (920-892-2663) and supply
them with a description of the child, i.e., name, age, the color
of hair, clothes they are wearing, etc.
Lost & Found
Is there a Lost and Found?
Yes, contact an Road America security representative and they
will direct you to the Security office which is located inside
After an event, all lost and found items are transferred to
the Road America Administrative Office which is open M-F from
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. All inquiries should be directed to
800-365-7223 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to Leave at Home
What to leave at home?
Personal golf carts, ATV’s and unlicensed vehicles
are NOT allowed on Road America property.
They WILL be impounded upon arrival until the end of
Firearms and fireworks are also prohibited.
Drones, QuadCopters, or Unmanned Aircraft Systems/Vehicle
(UAS/UAV) are NOT allowed.
Offensive signage (including flags and banners that contain the
Any other items that may impose a safety hazard or diminish the
enjoyment of the event for other guests.
Prohibited items discovered during security inspections at the
facility entrances must either be returned to the owner’s vehicle
or discarded. Unlawful items discovered during security
inspections are subject to confiscation and the person in
possession of those items is subject to arrest. Any prohibited
items discovered inside the facility are subject to confiscation.
Track Speed Record
What is the track speed record?
1:39.866 / 145.924mph (234.791 kph) set by Dario Franchitti,
2000 Team Kool Green Honda Reynard, CART Championship Race
Where can I find information on Road America’s History?
The History of Road America
In the early 1950s, sports car races were being run on the
streets in and around Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. When
the state legislature banned racing on public roads, a man named
Clif Tufte organized a group of influential local citizens and
leaders of the Chicago Region of the Sports Car Club of America
(SCCA). This group
developed plans and sold stock to build a permanent racecourse.
The overall vision of Road America grew out of the dreams of
Tufte, a highway engineer, who chose 525 acres of Wisconsin
farmland outside the Village of Elkhart Lake for the track.
Tufte’s dream became a reality in April 1955, the natural
topography of the glacial Kettle Moraine area was utilized for
the track, sweeping around rolling hills and plunging through
ravines. By September 10, 1955, the track’s first SCCA national
race weekend was held. At 4.048 miles in length, with 14 turns,
the track is virtually the same today as it was when it was first
laid out and is revered the world over as one of the world’s
finest and most challenging road courses.
Millions of dollars in improvements have been made throughout the
years, but the original 4.048-mile, 14-turn configuration has
never been altered. In 2005, Elkhart Lake’s Road America, Inc.
celebrated its 50th anniversary. Its history was documented in a
“Road America: Celebrating 50 Years of Road Racing” by Tom
Schultz. Celebrities such as David Letterman, Tom Cruise, Patrick
Dempsey, Tim Allen, Ashley Judd and the late Paul Newman have
visited this venue, not only for the great racing but also the
scenic surroundings of this resort community.
Road America is big business, attracting 800,000 visitors a year
from every corner of the world. Economic impact studies show that
Road America, its events and visitors generate more than $100
million dollars annually each year. Over 500 events are held annually at Road America, often
running multiple activities on the same day incorporating the
four-mile track, the interior Road America Motorplex
and the beautiful grounds surrounding the facility.
The First Race
In 1955, the SCCA granted a sanction for an SCCA National, the
highest form of road racing in the country at the time, held
September 10 and 11. The feature, a 148-mile race for the era’s
large sports racing cars, became a duel between two men and their
cars. Sherwood Johnson of Rye, N.Y., was one of the country’s
best drivers. He was driving semi-works D Jaguar for the Briggs
Cunningham team. Phil Hill of Santa Monica, Calif., a rising
racing star on the west coast, took to the track in a Ferrari
Monza. For 37 laps Johnston and Hill were inseparable but then
began to fight for the lead during the last six laps. As they
approached the finish line on the last lap, Hill inched ahead and
barely won the race. Phil Hill’s average speed was 80.2 mph.
The First Professional Race Weekend
The first professional race weekend was the August 1956 NASCAR
Grand National race. At the time NASCAR was just a regional
southern series and not widely popular. Well under 10,000
spectators attended the two-day event. On Saturday Paul Goldsmith
won in a Jaguar Mk., VII sedan with a winning speed of 59.2 mph.
The Sunday race was run in the rain and was a display of spinouts
and hay bale bashing. The day’s winner was Tim Flock in a Mercury
at a speed of 71.4 mph.
Who do I contact for Media Credentials?
Media credentials must be requested in accordance with Road
America policies, additional information is available on the
Who do I contact for Vendor space during an event?
Who do I contact for Volunteering at Road America?
Road America is always looking for non-profit organizations that
are interested in assisting with parking attendant positions,
concessions, etc. Call us at 800-365-7223 or email email@example.com.
Who do I contact to make wedding arrangements at Road America?
Please contact our offices at 800-365-7223 or
Driving the Track
Can I buy Fuel at Road America?
Yes, fuel is available for purchase via credit card at all club
events. To gain access to the pumps, purchasers need to be
participants who are registered in an event that is taking place.
There are two types of fuel available: Sunoco, 110 octane,
(leaded), and 98 octane (unleaded).
What is it like to drive the track from a racer’s perspective?
Road America is a racetrack that sports car drivers both revere
and respect. Like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit in
France, Road America’s extended straights are a test of
horsepower and its high-speed curves are a test of bravery.
We asked Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner to take us for a
virtual lap around this fast, flowing circuit that winds through
the hills and valleys of Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine. Here is what
the 26-year-old driver and 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans winner had to
say about this challenging 4-mile, 14-turn road course that’s
known as the National Park of Speed:
I like race tracks that are fast, with quick corners and a
layout that has a rhythm – and Road America has all of those
things. When my Corvette’s setup is right and the car feels
comfortable, it’s a very rewarding lap.
Turn 1 is very fast and very difficult because you are
turning and braking simultaneously. I approach the first turn
flat out in sixth gear, then downshift to fourth and use the
access road on the left side as my braking reference. The key
here is to carry the engine speed through the middle of the
corner and then get back on the power hard.
Coming out of Turn 1, I shift up to fifth gear through the
gentle Turn 2 bend and approach Turn 3, which can be a difficult
corner to get right. Going into the turn, I downshift to third;
with the camber in this corner, it’s easy to lock upright the
front tire. If you’re close behind another car coming out of Turn
1, then Turn 3 can be a good passing opportunity. However,
there’s not much room at the exit with a ditch behind the rumble
strips, so if you use the curb you have to get back on the road
Turn 4 is just a gradual bend in the road, but Turn 5 is
super important because it’s a great passing opportunity. Going
downhill under the Sargento Bridge, I’m in sixth gear through one
of the fastest parts of the track. The braking zone for Turn 5 is
a great place to pass; we decelerate from 150 mph, so the balance
of the car under hard braking is critical. There’s room on the
exit to run wide, and then it’s back hard on the throttle going
up the hill to the Corvette Bridge.
You have to be easy on the brakes going under the Corvette
Bridge into Turn 6 because the car gets very light going over the
crest of the hill. It’s a blind corner, too, which adds to the
excitement factor. This corner has a lot of grip, so it’s
possible to toss the car across the apex and then let the track
catch it at end of Turn 6 – big fun!
I’m back on the throttle hard going into Turn 7 and through
the Hurry Downs, one of my favorite sections at Road America. The
car needs good balance to make this transition quickly; if it’s
right, you don’t use the brakes at all, just lift a little on the
throttle. Turn 8 is a tight, 90-degree corner, so if the guy in
front makes a mistake in Turn 7, you can really put the pressure
on here. The track is typically a little slippery here in the
braking zone. I go down to second gear, let the track catch the
car in the apex, and then power slide out of Turn 8.
Next up are Road America’s most famous corners, the Carousel
and the Kink. I hold my breath a bit and get settled for this
very difficult series of turns. Going into the Carousel, I bring
the car to the left and try to drive it as flat and long as
possible, usually taking several apexes. I turn the steering
wheel to the point that I can get the most out of the front
tires, and use my right foot on the gas pedal to steer the car.
The Carousel sets you up for the long, fast ride through the Kink
and Kettle Bottoms.
The Kink gets your undivided attention – it’s one quick
corner. There are faster corners, but the Kink is special because
you can’t take it flat out. It becomes a game to see who can stay
on the throttle the longest. Hitting a curb in the Kink can upset
the car, and that’s the last thing you want in that corner. I
enter the Kink in fifth or sixth gear, depending on the gear
ratios, and lift just a bit on the entry. I admit that on the
first lap I do tap the brake, but after that, I go through the
Kink without braking – although my foot is usually hovering over
the brake pedal!
After the Kink, it’s a flat-out run down through a tunnel of
trees to Canada Corner and another excellent overtaking
opportunity. If you have a fast car, you can really make up time
on a competitor, but it’s difficult to pull off a pass if he
drives a defensive line. I shift down to second gear for Canada
Corner, and it’s important to have a car that puts the power down
well to accelerate through Thunder Valley and the Bill Mitchell
Turn 13 seems to get faster every year as the engineers find
new ways to give us more downforce. The exit is very fast, but
it’s tough to see where the apex is and how much room you have at
the exit. Last year I had a close encounter with the wall there
when I was pushing too hard on cold tires. I learned that Turn 13
can bite you.
It’s important to get a good exit from Turn 14, the final
corner because it leads onto the long, uphill straight. The car
gains speed slowly climbing the hill and then sets you back in
the seat when the track finally flattens out. The front straight
is a good place to draft. The GT cars often run two-wide here,
which makes it difficult for the faster Prototype cars to get
around us, but that’s just part of the multi-class racing at Road