Track Decal of the Week: Road America
By Bradley Iger
July 15, 2014
As auto racing was beginning to gain popularity in the United States in the 1940s and early 1950s, most events were held on public streets. Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin's open road course was among many across the country that played host to numerous SCCA events throughout the era. After legislation brought a ban to racing on public roads due to safety concerns spurred by a particularly bad crash at Watkins Glen in 1952, a man by the name of Clif Tufte brought together members of the Chicago Region of the Sports Car Club of America to develop plans to build a permanent, private road course in Elkhart Lake.
Piloting a Ferrari Monza, Phill HIll barely edged out Sherwood Johnson in a Jaguar D-Type for the win at Road America's inaugural race
On September 10th, 1955, the newly christened Road America racetrack hosted an SCCA National race for its inaugural event. The 148-mile race saw an incredible battle between the first and second place competitors, Sherwood Johnson of Rye, N.Y. in the Briggs Cunningham Jaguar D-Type and Phil Hill of Santa Monica, California in a Ferrari Monza. For 37 laps Johnston and Hill remained locked to one another, but the real fight for the lead unfolded during the last six laps, and as they approached the finish line on the last lap, Hill inched ahead and won the race by a nose.
The road course now currently hosts races in the American Le Mans Series, SCCA Speed World Challenge Series, Grand-Am, ASRA, AMA Superbike Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and many others on a road course configuration which has remained essentially unchanged for more than 50 years. Consisting of 14 turns and a 4.048 mile lap length, Road America features a wide variation of corner designs, elevation changes based on the areas natural topography, and a massive front straight which allows for speeds of up to nearly 200mph in some races before competitors slow down in anticipation for Turn 1.
Road America has become one of the most famous racetracks in the world, heralded by many as being among the most challenging and comprehensive road course tests of both man and machine in North America. It has been depicted in racing simulators like iRacing and Forza Motorsport
, and it has also become a popular location for track testing of road cars
as well. Here's a peak at what the track looks like from behind the wheel: