Road America – SRO Weekend
Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.57
Road America N7390 WI-67 Elkhart Lake, WI 53073
Year Opened: 1955
Supercars in Lake Country
Road America is often regarded as one of the greatest race tracks in the world, let alone the US. While the track’s annual schedule features NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA, and others, SRO America provides a weekend of GT-only sportscar racing. The “supercars” on track offer stellar racing over four days, including unrivaled fan access and unique fan event opportunities. Racing in a beautiful setting that proves to be both fan-friendly and easy to navigate, this summer event is a must-see on the IndyCar slate.
Food & Beverage 5
There are a lot of places to eat at Road America, and the ones that exist are an absolute treat for the pallet. With over 20 concession stands located around the course, Road America is led by The Gearbox, a hillside concessions stand and bar that features some of the best views on the property, as well as the best food around. Being in Wisconsin you can get the best cheese and sausage foods there, as well as a brilliantly tasty breakfast food called eggers.
The atmosphere around Road America during race weekend is very family-friendly and relaxed. The best in the sport are taking part in some of the most exciting racing around, and despite the tension of the competition, everyone – including the teams and drivers – is in a relaxed and fun-loving mood. There is just something about the beauty of the countryside and the forests around the premises that put everyone in a go-race-and-enjoy-every-minute-of-it state of mind.
In addition, the quality of the on-track action is enough to make any fan excited to see what happens around the next corner. The excitement fills the air every time a car takes to the track, be it for practice, qualifying, or a race. Road America also features some of the cleanest racetrack bathrooms anywhere. Add that to the incredible track store and the free fan shuttle that can take you around the various viewing areas, and you have a solid basis for calling this one of the best tracks around.
In 2023 the track also debuted a new walking and golf cart path around the outside of the carousel, which leads to the new beach viewing area just before the famous Kink turn. Here, beach lounging chairs and faux palm trees offer a tropical vibe to watch motorsports in Wisconsin.
The area around Road America is exactly what you would expect to find in rural Wisconsin – rolling hills, farmland, forests, and small towns. The town of Elkhart Lake is quaint and small but is seething with racing history and lore. Famed racing announcer David Hobbs calls this small town home, and the fans here are all die-hards who watch everything that happens on the track.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay near Road America, there is a wide variety of small bed-and-breakfasts to pick from in and around Elkhart Lake, as well as some cabins that can make you feel like you’re roughing it…sort of. In addition, the town of Sheboygan is only 20-30 minutes away by car, providing fans a chance to stay in a hotel chain of their choice – Holiday Inn, La Quinta, etc. are all located in Sheboygan.
If you’re looking for something to eat, Sheboygan has a wide variety of restaurants, from Applebee’s to McDonald’s. But by far the most must-see eatery near Road American is the Stop-Inn Tavern at Siebkens Resort in Elkhart Lake, a local bar that all of racing royalty has passed through at some time or another. And, for those looking for something to see and do, the Kettle-Moraine State Forest is not far from the track, providing some great hiking options. In addition, the Kohler factory is in nearby Sheboygan, and Road America’s location is just a 30-minute drive from the Great Lakes.
Fans at Road America are much like those in the rest of the Midwest – die-hard and series-knowledgeable. They’re also absurdly kind and sweet, willing to help in any way possible when you need assistance with anything. They also pack the camping areas around the speedway, making for one brilliant fan block party. While not exactly sporting the crowd sizes seen at NASCAR, IMSA, or IndyCar weekends, the SRO weekend at Road America has seen a steady increase in attendance over the past few years. No doubt this has been thanks in part to increased advertising and fan outreach for the event.
Getting to Road America isn’t as difficult as getting to some sports facilities. That said, it is off the beaten path – at least a 10-minute drive from the nearest highway, Road America requires you to drive down some single-lane roads through the hilly countryside.
Once you’re at Road America, you’ll discover that there are several other entrances to the track that you didn’t know about, which can be frustrating if you have to wait in line for hours; check the fan map of the venue to identify these alternate gates and entrances.
The biggest plus at Road America is that the main entrance had a complete makeover in 2016, adding more entrance booths for faster processing of fans and campers.
Return on Investment 5
Road America is one of the best tracks at which you can watch a race. The facility is huge, but you are given plenty of options to watch the race without having to move from place to place. Watching from the right location can give you up to six corners of the track to see all at once, and you also get access to the grandstands all around the track, as well as access to the paddock, with your admission ticket to most races.
Perhaps the biggest fan attraction to SRO weekend is the annual racecar parade and festival in downtown Elkhart Lake on Thursday evening of race weekend. Here, all the cars participating in SRO weekend drive down through the town of Elkhart Lake and stage in front of Siebkens Resort. Then, fans can walk up and get a close view of all the cars, as well as meet some of the drivers for autographs.
You can also take a trip to Elkhart Lake, and follow the original track layouts through historic markers along the roadside. Before it had its current layout, Road America was once a true street course, running through Elkhart Lake itself and over the hills on the various roadways in the nearby area.
Back at the track, where once a zip line ended now stands a high vantage point for fans to watch the action at the track inside the final turn. The former zip line landing platform is now a giant viewing zone, and while you may have to climb a lot of stairs to get there, the view is well worth it. Additionally, if you have ever wanted to try your hand at racing, you can sign up for racing school at the track.
If you can’t peel your eyes away from your mobile device, you can also engage with the race on social media, and see your photos and tweets on the various big screens around Road America by using specific hashtags and handles on Twitter and Instagram.
And if treetop views or social media aren’t your thing, you can also take a wandering hike through the forest on several pathways that meander through the mountains above Kettle Bottoms and Canada Corner – these trails lead from the top of the peak to the bottom of a newly-cleared pathway along the infamous straightaway.
Finally, several autograph sessions happen during the weekend in the fan zone, offering fans a chance to see some of their favorite drivers.
If you want to see racing history and meet modern-day sports stars, take a trip to Road America – you will not be disappointed in what you find. In addition, if you want to take a step above that, go camping on the property during race weekend. The fans are nice, the action is top quality, and the weather is almost always beautiful. It’s hard to find a better place to see racing in North America than Road America.