Road America

Road America is a motorsport road course located near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, United States on Wisconsin Highway 67. It has hosted races since the 1950s and currently hosts races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, NTT IndyCar Series, SCCA Pirelli World Challenge, ASRA, AMA Superbike series, and SCCA Pro Racing's Trans-Am Series.

Current track and facilities

Road America is a permanent road course. It is located midway between the cities of Milwaukee and Green Bay, and classified as an FIA Grade Two circuit.[3]

The track is situated on 640 acres (2.6 km2) near the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. It has hosted races since September 1955 and currently hosts over 400 events a year.[4] Of its annual events, 9 major weekends are open to the public which include 3 motorcycle events including the MotoAmerica (AMA FIM) series, 3 vintage car events, Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events, the United Sports Car Racing Series, the Pirelli World Challenge, and the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Road America is one of only a handful of road circuits in the world maintaining its original configuration[4] being 4.048 miles (6.515 km) in length and 14 turns. The track features many elevation changes, along with a long front stretch where speeds approaching 200 mph (320 km/h) may be reached. One of the best known features of this course is a turn on the backside known as "the kink."

Road America's open seating allows spectators to venture throughout the grounds. Grandstands are available in several locations, as well as permanent hillside seating where crowds of more than 150,000 can be accommodated.[citation needed]

CTECH Manufacturing Motorplex

In addition to the main course, the facility includes a 0.8-mile (1.3 km) karting track called the CTECH Manufacturing Motorplex inside the Carousel. The motorplex hosts two series of karting events. It hosts weekly events on Tuesdays in the summer. It also hosts approximately six Saturday events during the summer. The motorplex also hosts events sanctioned by the North Woods GP series running Supermoto and street bike racing using small displacement motorcycles.

Off road racing circuit

The Motorplex was built at the site of an earlier off road racing circuit used for several SODA events in the 1990s. The 1995 event was televised tape delayed on ESPN2 by reporters Marty Reid, Ivan Stewart, and Jimmie Johnson.[5] The course was 1.1 miles (1.8 km) long with 150 feet (46 m) of elevation change.[5] The track featured a blind jump nicknamed "The Hell Hole".[5]


In late 2006, Road America began a project to remove the old Billy Mitchell bridge and use a tunnel as the main entrance to the paddock. The tunnel project was completed in May 2007 with the grand opening celebration on May 31 for the AMA Suzuki Superbike Championship weekend.[6] The tunnel is 16.5' high and 36' wide and has two lanes of traffic and two pedestrian walkways on either side. With the removal of the bridge, a new spectator viewing area was created.

History of racing at Elkhart Lake

Open road course

The site of the 1951 and 1952 start finish line for road races in downtown Elkhart Lake

In the late 1940s, road racing was gaining popularity, owing to the post World War II economy, and the influx of sporting automobiles. The Sports Car Club of America was the main organizer of these races, and in 1950, the Chicago Region SCCA and the Village of Elkhart Lake organized the first road race at Elkhart Lake.

The 1950 circuit start-finish line was on County Road P. Competitors went north to County Road J, then South into the Village of Elkhart Lake, and West on what is now County JP (then called County Highway X), and reconnected with County Road P for a total distance of 3.3 miles (5.3 km).

For the next two races, in 1951 and 1952, a different course was used. It was 6.5 miles (10.5 km) long, on County Roads J, A, and P. To date, one may still drive most of the original course.

The original course was registered on the National Register of Historic Places on February 17, 2006. Signs have been installed marking key locations on the course.[7][8]

Private road course

After the tragedy at Watkins Glen in 1952, where a child was killed, the U.S. ruled to discontinue motorized contests of speed on public highways. This was a major blow for competition auto racing and brought the end of a long-standing tradition. This did not permanently stop road racing, however, it did shift it to private courses. In 1955, Clif Tufte started what is now known as Road America, in a configuration that has changed little over the past 60 years. The addition of Road America as a private track meant a transition from racing through the streets of tiny Elkhart Lake to racing on a big, wide, dedicated race track.

Racing at Road America

Many different racing series have had the occasion to race at Road America. The first was the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) on September 10, 1955.[9] The Road America 500 is a sports car race that was part of different championships, among them the SCCA National Sports Car Championship, the United States Road Racing Championship and the IMSA GT Championship. Currently it is a points-paying race of the United SportsCar Championship. The Grand Prix of Road America was an open-wheel race held as part of the Champ Car World Series

Other notable series have included NASCAR's Grand National (now NASCAR Cup Series) in 1956 and NASCAR Xfinity Series since 2010, CART from 1982 until 2007,[10] Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Racing Series, CanAm, Trans-Am, AMA, and the SCCA National Championship Runoffs from 2009 to 2013. The Stadium Super Trucks began racing at the track starting in 2018; the trucks run a shortened course that bypasses turns 6 to 12, though the full layout is used on the final lap.[11][12]

Road America also holds a variety of vintage racing events, including the Brian Redman International Challenge, now the HAWK with Brian Redman.

ALMS race history

At the 2008 Road America 500 an Audi R10 TDI set an LMP1 pole time of 1:46.935. At the 2009 Road Race Showcase, Dyson Racing Team set an LMP2 pole time of 1:51.010. At the 2011 Road Race Showcase, BMW Team RLL set a GT pole time of 2:05.447, while at the same event a Porsche 997 GT3 set a GTC pole time of 2:14.126.

NASCAR race history

NASCAR Cup Series

One NASCAR Grand National (now NASCAR Cup Series) race was held in 1956. The track will host another Cup series race in 2021.[13]

Year Date Driver Team Manufacturer Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
Laps Miles (km)
1956 August 12 Tim Flock Bill Stroppe Mercury 63 258.3 (415.693) 3:29:50 73.858

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Xfinity cars in 2010

On December 21, 2009, NASCAR announced that with the situation at the Wisconsin State Fair Park being unclear, and losing races at the Milwaukee Mile, they would move Milwaukee's Xfinity Series race to Road America. The first race was held on June 19, 2010 and was won by Carl Edwards.[14] In 2015, the race moved to late August during an off-weekend for the Sprint Cup Series.

Year Date Winning Driver Team Manufacturer Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
Laps Miles (km)
2010 June 19 Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing Ford 50 202.4 (325.731) 2:57:17 68.501
2011 June 25 Reed Sorenson Turner Motorsports Chevrolet 57* 230.736 (371.333) 2:55:24 78.929
2012 June 23 Nelson Piquet, Jr. Turner Motorsports Chevrolet 50 202.4 (325.731) 2:22:35 85.171
2013 June 22 A.J. Allmendinger Penske Racing Ford 55* 222.64 (356.224) 2:58:50 74.697
2014 June 21 Brendan Gaughan Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 53* 214.544 (345.275) 2:48:03 76.6
2015 August 29 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 45 182.16 (293.158) 2:20:21 77.874
2016 August 27 Michael McDowell Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 48* 194.304 (312.702) 2:36:20 74.573
2017 August 27 Jeremy Clements Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet 45 182.16 (293.158) 2:12:53 82.25
2018 August 25 Justin Allgaier JR Motorsports Chevrolet 45 182.20 (293.222) 2:23:57 75.926
2019 August 24 Christopher Bell Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 45 182.20 (293.222) 2:11:38 83.031
2020 August 8 Austin Cindric Team Penske Ford 45 182.20 (293.222) 2:30:01 82.120
  • 2011: Race extended due to three green–white–checker finish attempts and ended under caution when the three attempts to finish the race failed.
  • 2013: Race extended due to two green-white-checker finish attempts.
  • 2014 and 2016: Race extended due to green-white-checker finish attempt.

Indy Car / Champ Car race results

The CART Champ Car series held races at the track from 1982 to 2007, with the exception of 2005. The Verizon Indy Car Series revived the event beginning in 2016.

Major incidents and events at the track

2005 BRIC wreck

At the beginning of the Group 6 race in the 2005 Brian Redman International Challenge, there was a large incident consisting of most of the field: The driver starting fifth (Ray Mulacek, 1969 Chevrolet Camaro) accelerated well before the green flag and tried to force his way between the wall and the car in front of him, resulting in contact with the wall. A following car checked up and was rear-ended, causing a spin that led to further contact as following cars were unable to avoid the growing incident. After just a few seconds of green flag racing, the red flag was waved. Following the initial incident, the failure of trailing drivers to heed red flags being shown at 14 and 15 (under the bridge at the crest of the hill) may have compounded the issue. Luckily, nobody was seriously injured, with the worst injury being a broken arm.[15]

Cristiano da Matta deer incident

On August 3, 2006, Cristiano da Matta, driver of Champ Car's RuSPORT team, was involved in a collision with a deer during Champ Car open testing at Road America. The deer ran in front of his car as he was heading towards turn 6. He hit the deer with his right front tire, the deer then flew back and hit da Matta in the cockpit.[16] Da Matta was unconscious when the safety crew extricated him from the car,[17] and was airlifted via to Theda Clark Medical Center south of Appleton, where he underwent surgery to remove a subdural hematoma.[18]

Death of Adam Schatz

Adam Schatz, 26,[19] from Chicago, Illinois, died in a karting accident during the Road America Super Nationals, Championship Enduro Series on July 12, 2008.

Bump drafting was a determining factor of the crash.[20]

During the end of the race, Schatz was in second place. On the main straight, shortly after the last turn, Schatz saw the kart in third position on his left and tried to pull ahead to be bumped. As he did so, the kart in fourth position bumped the third, speeding the third kart up. At this point Schatz was not clear as to what was happening, and as he moved to his left, the two karts made contact.

Schatz's kart veered hard left and hit the wall. The impact sent the kart flying ten feet into the air ejecting the driver onto the track. The rest of the drivers avoided Schatz, some drivers stopped and after seeing Schatz's condition, waved to get medical help.[20]

The race was immediately stopped as medical assistance arrived on the place of the accident. Schatz had suffered brain stem and spinal cord injuries and his heart had stopped. He was revived by the doctors and taken to the Theda Clark Memorial Hospital in Neenah, Wisconsin, but his injuries proved to be too severe to survive and one week later he died.[21]

2015 CCR Tifosi Challenge red flag wreck

During the Pirelli World Challenge weekend, drivers Steve Hill and Jim Booth were involved in an intense battle for first. The drivers contacted each other heading towards turn 5, causing Jim Booth to go airborne into the catch fence at 150 mph. This caused significant damage to the fence throwing debris into the spectator area. Booth's car was completely destroyed while Hill was able to continue the race with minor damage. Neither of the drivers, personnel, or spectators were injured during the incident.[22]

Other events

Road America is host to several non-automotive events.

In pop culture

Video games

The Road America track has been included in multiple racing video games, including the Forza Motorsport series, iRacing, Raceroom Racing Experience, NASCAR Heat 2, NASCAR Heat 3, NASCAR Heat 4, Need for Speed: Shift, Shift 2: Unleashed, Project CARS, Project CARS 2, TOCA Race Driver 2, and Ride 3.

Photo gallery


  1. ^ staff (May 28, 2014). "Continental Tire Sponsors Road America Race". National Speed Sport News. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  3. ^ "List of FIA licensed circuits" (Press release). Federation Internationale de l'Automobile. December 14, 2018. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Road Rage: American LeMans". 2008-08-09. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  5. ^ a b c "Road America". True Value Off Road Series. 1995. 1 minutes in. ESPN2.
  6. ^ PaddockTalk. "Road America To Remove Bridge and Add Tunnel :: PaddockTalk :: F1, Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, MotoGP, ALMS, And More!". PaddockTalk. Archived from the original on 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  7. ^ "Elkhart Lake Road Race Circuits". Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved 2016-05-30.
  8. ^ Miller, Elizabeth L. (2005-08-01). "Elkhart Lake Road Race Circuits". NRHP Inventory-Nomination Form. National Park Service. Retrieved 2016-05-30.
  9. ^ Christopher H. Kintner. "Mg Vintage Racers". Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  10. ^ [1] Archived May 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Kallman, Dave (October 17, 2017). "Road America adds stadium off-road trucks to NASCAR Xfinity Series weekend". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  12. ^ Nguyen, Justin (August 26, 2018). "SST: Gordon and Brabham take Road America victories". Overtake Motorsport. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  13. ^ Hart, Megan (2020-09-30). "Road America Gets NASCAR Cup Series Race In 2021". Wisconsin Public Radio. Retrieved 2020-09-30.
  14. ^ "report on Road America". Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  15. ^ "OT: Multi crash @ BRIC - Road America - Ford Forums - Mustang Forum, Ford Trucks, Ford Focus and Ford Cars". Ford Forums. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  16. ^ "Articles". Archived from the original on 2006-08-15. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  17. ^ PaddockTalk. "Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Cristiano da Matta Still in Critical Condition :: PaddockTalk :: F1, Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, MotoGP, ALMS, And More!". PaddockTalk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  18. ^ "Update on Condition of RuSPORT Driver Cristiano da Matta". Archived from the original on July 7, 2008. Retrieved August 4, 2006.
  19. ^ "Smith-Corcoran Funeral Home: Obituary: Mr. Adam W. Schatz". Archived from the original on 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  20. ^ a b The Motorsport Memorial Team, "Motorsport Memorial". Motorsport Memorial. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  21. ^ "News". 2008-07-22. Archived from the original on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  22. ^ "News". 2015-07-04. Retrieved 2017-01-05.

External links