All Roads Lead to Road America

August 14, 2012

All Roads Lead to Road America

August 14, 2012

They come from across the pond and around the country knowing that for sports car racers in North America, all roads lead to Road America.

The reasons are simple and pure. One of America’s fastest, most challenging and rewarding tracks to drive also features its own ambiance, traditions and charm.

“I’ve been coming here since the first year CART came here (1982),” said Derrick Walker, former team manager at Penske Racing. “We always stay at a little bed and breakfast in Plymouth. It’s like living in someone else’s house. You just carry your bags up the stairs. The fans at RA are really into it and some know a lot. They are real racers.”

The American Le Mans Series teams travel here from both coasts and across the Midwest, and their drivers from around the world.

Top teams like New York-based Dyson Racing, New Hampshire’s Green Hornet, Florida’s Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferraris, Lotus/Alex Job Racing and Performance Tech call the East Coast home.

South Carolina is home to the PC championship leading CORE autosport team, while Paul Miller Racing and Dempsey Racing teams are based in Georgia.

From the Left Coast come the Porsches from Flying Lizard and The Racers Group. The PR1 Mathiasen PC team and the ALMS LMP1 championship-leading Muscle Milk Pickett Honda squad also call California home.

Closer to home are the Michigan-based GT leaders from Corvette Racing, the RSR PC team and the new SRT Vipers.

Ohio is home to the Merchant Services Racing PC squad and BMW Team RLL. They are joined by Indianapolis-based Conquest Endurance and Falken, Colorado’s JDX Racing and the LMP2 entries from Wisconsin’s own Level 5.

While not quite centrally located, the scenic track and distinctive 4.08-mile circuit have a special place in the eyes of the racers. Along with Walker, all look forward to the annual trek to what is aptly tagged “America’s National Park of Speed.”

Road America sports an unmistakable sense of place – in stark contrast to the latest look-alike steel and concrete palaces of oval racing stadiums. The track, hotels, local communities, foods, and even the fans are all distinctive.

For Rob Dyson, the Road America tradition began in 1983, aboard a Pontiac Firebird.

Three years later, his son Chris was a starry-eyed eight-year-old, standing on the podium as his father and co-driver Price Cobb collected their runner-up hardware.

CORE autosport’s Colin Braun, age 23, has been attending races at Road America for more than 20 years.

BMW team RLL’s Bill Auberlen has fond memories of Road America. “Road America is my favorite track. My first professional win was there in a Mazda RX7 GTU. Road America was also the place of our first win for the BMW Team RLL program with Joey Hand co-driving. We always celebrate with a bratwurst and corn-on-the-cob when we win at Road America,  or even if we don’t.”

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