NASCAR Returns To Wisconsin's Road America After a 34-Year Absence

Sal Sigala Jr.Senior Analyst IMarch 25, 2010

The one and only visit that NASCAR made to this 4.048-mile, 14 turn track known as Road America in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin, Tim Flock took the checkered flag on August 12, 1956 with an average speed of 73.858 miles per hour.

With Milwaukee Mile officials announcing their track would not host any NASCAR events for the 2010 season because of financial problems, NASCAR needed another venue to replace the June 19 race date.

"It's unfortunate when you lose any venues on the circuit," said Nationwide Series director Joe Balash.

"But to be able to come here, it's still close, we're still serving the same fans. And it's such a cool venue."

Along with its rich racing history that dates back over 55 years, Road America is also known for its pristine backdrop given that the track meanders its way through central Wisconsin’s forest region.

On Wednesday road course specialist Boris Said, tested at the track in an effort to collect data so that NASCAR could give the NNS teams some figures to work with, even though the teams will be allowed a full day of practice on June 17.

"I've raced all over the world, and this is probably the closest thing to a European Formula One track," said Said when talking about the tracks configuration.

The track is also known to have many passing opportunities, along with a front straightaway where the drivers could reach speeds in excess of 180 miles per hour, which in turn should make for some very exciting racing.

"It's the only track that they haven't kind of put the 'restrictor plate' on -- gotten rid of the fast corners, put chicanes in,β€œ said Said.

Road America in the past has played host to other racing organizations such as Grand-Am, USAC, CanAm, Trans-Am, IMSA, AMA, and CART from 1982 until 2007.

The track is built on over 640 acres of land, and can easily accommodate over 150,000 fans in several grandstands which are located throughout the track.

Along with the usual hazards that NASCAR is already known for, racing at Road America also comes with its own type of unique disturbance which is not seen at any other track in the series.

With the track nestled in the forest, deer have been known to wander onto the course even though officials have taken the proper measures to protect the drivers by putting up fences, and using air horns and rifles before the cars are allowed onto the track each morning.

"We understand we have a responsibility to keep things safe for racers, and guys will be packin', absolutely," said track president and general manager George Bruggenthies.

Road America will become the third road course joining Watkins Glen International, and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal as the other two Nationwide road races in 2010.

Bruggenthies said fan response has been "unbelievable" so far.


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