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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Road America is often regarded as one of the greatest race tracks in the world, let alone the USA. Its annual schedule features NASCAR Xfinity Series, Pirelli World Challenge, IMSA, IndyCar, and vintage racing action throughout the year. Fans from all over the Midwest flock to the track to witness some of North America's best sports action in a beautiful setting that proves to be both fan friendly and easy to navigate.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are a lot of places to eat at the track, 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 concession 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 are, as well as brilliantly tasty breakfast foods called eggers.
The addition of the IndyCar Series to the schedule means even more food options are now available around the race course.
Of course, the beer is also cold and tasty, perfect for sitting under a tree with a cool breeze as cars go speeding past.
The atmosphere around Road America during a 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 state. There is just something about the beauty of the countryside and forests around the premises that puts everyone in a "let's go race and enjoy every moment 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 for a race.
The area around Road America is exactly what you would expect to find in rural Wisconsin -- rolling hills, farm land, forests, and small towns. The town of Elkhart Lake is quaint and small, but seething with racing history and lore. Famed racing announcer David Hobbs calls the small town his home, and the fans are all die-hards who watch everything that happens on the track.
If you're looking for somewhere to stay, 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...sorta. 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 there).
The track's location is also just a 30-minute drive from the Great Lakes. If you're looking for something to eat, Sheboygan has a wide variety of restaurants. But by far the most must-see place in all of Elkhart Lake is Siebkens, a local bar that all of racing royalty has passed through at some time or another.
Fans at Road America are much like those of the rest of the Midwest -- die-hards and series-knowledgeable ones, at that. They're also absurdly kind and sweet, willing to help in any way possible when you need assistance with anything. They also pack in the camping areas around the speedway, making for one brilliant block party for the fans. Over 100,000 fans packed the speedway during 2016's IndyCar race, making it a race unlike any other on the schedule for the series.
Getting to Road America isn't as difficult as some sports facilities. That said, it is off the beaten path. At least 10 minutes' drive from the nearest highway, Road America also requires you to drive down some single-lane roads through the hilly countryside.
However, with the addition of IndyCar to the schedule, the facility has greatly increased its signage nearby. The entrance is so sudden and not easily marked that one would be liable to drive right on past it were there not a major race going on that weekend, but with the new signs, it is much easier to know you're on the right path to the entrances. Once you're at the track, you will also discover that there are several other entrances to the track that you didn't know about to begin with, which can be frustrating if you had to wait hours in line. Check the fan map of Road America to identify alternate gates and entrances.
The biggest plus is that the main entrance had a complete makeover in 2016, adding more entrance booths for faster processing of fans and campers.
Despite being practically in the middle of nowhere, Wisconsin, Road America is one of the best tracks from which you can watch a race. The facility is huge, but you are given plenty of places to watch the race without having to go from place to place. Watching from one location can give you up to six corners of the track to see all at once.<
You also get access to the grandstands all around the track as well as the paddock with your admission to most races.
What does one do with a massive hillside cliff in the middle of a racetrack? Put a giant zip-line there, of course! That's right. You can actually zip-line during the race action at Road America.
Additionally, if you have ever wanted to try your hand at racing, you can sign up for racing school at Road America.
You can also take a trip to Elkhart Lake and follow the original track layouts through historic markers along the roadside. Road America, before its current layout, was once a true street course, running through Elkhart Lake itself and over the hills on the various roadways in the nearby area.
If you can't peel your eyes away from your mobile device, you can also engage with the event on social media and see your photos and tweets on the various big screens around the races by using specific hashtags and handles on Twitter and Instagram.
Finally, you can take a wandering hike through the forest on several pathways that meander through the mountains above Kettle Bottoms and Canada Corner, leading from the top of the peak to the bottom of a newly-cleared pathway along the infamous straightaway.
If you want to see racing history meet modern-day sports stars, take a trip to Road America. You will not be disappointed in what you find. If you want to take a step above that, go camping on the property during the 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.
Member Review by ChrisGreenPhotography on Aug 09, 2015
Road America is often regarded as one of the greatest race tracks in the world, let alone the world. Its annual schedule features NASCAR Xfinity Series, Pirelli World Challenge, IMSA, and vintage racing action throughout the year. Fans from all over the Midwest flock to the track to witness some of North America’s best sports action in a beautiful setting that proves to be both fan friendly and easy to navigate.
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