AMA Racing Close To Home
by Benjamin P. Goebel
If you are a race fan, you certainly have heard of Road America. Road America is located in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. A regular stop on the AMA motorcycle circuit, it is a perennial favorite with racers and fans alike.
Road America is carved out of 525 acres of an area called the Kettle Moraine. It is a specific geologic feature found only in a few places in the world. The lay of this glacially-formed land makes for an amazingly challenging and beautiful track with lots of elevation changes. The roads around the track are also stellar, should you want to go for a rip.
The track is 4.048 miles long. There are 14 corners with names like Hurry downs, Canada Corner, Kettle Bottoms, Thunder Valley, and The Carousel.
Because of the unique geographic nature of the area, there are a many different areas to spectate. Some areas are grandstands with multiple corner views, some are areas with nothing more than a fence between you and the track. Many areas allow you to get within 30 feet of the track. In some spots the bikes might be racing three abreast. There are slow speed corners and fast sweepers. The front straight is an amazing spectacle; up to 170mph, then shed more than 100mph to make the right angle Turn One. Because of all the different places to watch, half the fun is moving around the track, watching from different places. Most people get around by motorcycle (warning: no unlicensed vehicles) or bicycle as it’s too hard to thread a car through the throngs. As far as bike watching is concerned, RA is top fun. Bikes and bikers of every kind and shape come to pay homage to the gods of speed. On Sundays, big race day, there are acres of bikes parked for ogling.
Camping at the track is always an experience. If you want to sleep through the night or are bringing children, a smart move might be to stay in the family camping area. The family area gets and stays quiet after 10pm. Anywhere else is loud and proud.
The food experience is as specific to Road America as the geography. The vendors have permanent buildings onsite much like a State Fair. The vendors are local clubs, organizations and churches. All of them take pride in what they have to offer. While the standard fare track dog and cheeseburger are well accounted for there are lots of surprises to be had. Remember, you are deep in a land known for brats, beer and cheese. Racing aficionados may want to stop at Siebkins, a local restaurant that has been at the heart of decades of motorcycle and car racing celebrations. And don’t forget, Friday Fish Fry, a not-just-for-lent, Wisconsin tradition.
Road America’s 2010 schedule for the Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader weekend (June 3-6) is listing five different race classes and eight separate races. Included in the mix is the TTXGP race. This is the new electric motorcycle race class series. Should be electrifying! If the Superbikes are going too fast, the new AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series might be more your speed. You are in the land of Harley-Davidson, after all. If your tastes run a little older, you may enjoy the AHRMA Vintage Motorcycle Classic (June 11-13). If you like cars too, RA has seven vastly different car races on the schedule. If you get bored watching the races you can go racing yourself at the Briggs & Stratton MotorPlex (an outdoor go kart track with lots of elevation changes) and rent high performance go karts. While there is a Skip Barber race school on site, they have as yet to post any dates for the new Skip Barber KTM superbike school. Road America does offer cycle training (BRC, ERC, scooter) on-site. Even more fun would be the three classes that the onsite Supermoto school offers.
You can get to Road America quickly or slowly. Quickly would be to run HWY 29 across the top/middle of Wisconsin. Slow route might be scenic alphabet roads along the Great River Road down to Lacrosse, then Hwy 33 over to the east side of the state. If you have never ridden this stretch of Hwy 33 from Lacrosse to where it meets Interstate 94 you definitely need to. It will add a lot of time to the trip but just riding through WildCat State Park (!multiple times!) is worth the trip.
Stop grieving over the loss of the AMA round at Brainerd International Raceway. Mark your calendars. Great roads. Great food. Great racing. And only a day away.