ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Summer is finally here in the upper Midwest and this year hundreds of vintage racers will make the journey to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin to celebrate the beauty and performance of some of the world's greatest race cars and sports cars, July 18 - 21 at Road America for the WeatherTechInternational Challenge with Brian Redman presented by HAWK.
Widely known as one of the largest vintage racing gatherings in the United States, over 400 cars are expected to participate and both race cars and sports cars from all walks of vintage are welcome. With 11 different groups subdivided into several sub-classes the wide range of cars provides something for everyone and there will be no shortage of spectacular racing.
Every year has a feature and this year as participants descend on the historic circuit Road America plans to host an MG Focus Event. Having the historic MG as a feature for The WeatherTech® International Challenge with Brian Redman is a fitting tribute for one of racing's most iconic sports cars at America's greatest road course because MG's have been a part of Road America's essential character since its inception.
September 10-11, 1955 was the inaugural weekend for Road America. The SCCA Chicago Region ran the races that weekend, and they were sanctioned as a National Championship event. There were two categories, Production and Modified, with several classes in each category. Three races were held on Saturday and four were held on Sunday. The first event at Road America on September 10, 1955 was an eight lap, 32-mile race for G Production cars (MG's). A field of TC's, TD's, and TF's ran in that first race, with Roy Heath winning the event in his TC. The average speed was 59.6 mph and the fastest laps were about four minutes.
As with any MG Focus Event, all MG racers (and MG supporters) are encouraged to attend the WeatherTech® International Challenge with Brian Redman presented by HAWK since it is complimented by races and a variety of MG activities. The tentative schedule calls for several days of racing - including All-MG Races. Non-racing activities will include: A special scenic drive for any non-racing MG's on Tuesday of race week. Thursday evening's welcome party and MG social at the Road America Center, and the hugely popular "Race Car Parade and Concours de Elegance" on Friday evening in downtown Elkhart Lake, with a Sports Car Parade on Saturday evening as well.
During the 1950s "Golden Age" of American sports-car racing, one of the most competitive specials was the Echidna, which ruled SCCA C and B/Modified competition. Just three Echidnas were built in all and this year all three Echidnas will be at the WeatherTech® International Challenge with Brian Redman presented by HAWK to celebrate their 60th anniversary of the Echidnas 1959 B/Modified National Championship.
In addition, the master's Historic Formula One USA grid is joined by the brand-new master's Endurance Legends USA series at the WeatherTech® International Challenge with Brian Redman presented by HAWK.
Competitors and fans will have the unique opportunity to catch all the action from these rare racers as they traverse through Turn 5, negotiate Canada Corner and barrel up the famed Front Straight to capture a bit of history.
Along with honoring the MG and Echidna, Road America celebrates the 53rd Anniversary of the Canadian-American Challenge or Can-Am Series. This is perhaps the most fondly remembered racing series ever, as it had minimal rules. Two seats, fendered bodywork, and that was about it. Unlimited engines, fat tires and unimaginable speed sums up what Can-Am was and the McLaren team ruled the early years. They won five years in a row at Road America, twice with Bruce McLaren and once each with Denny Hulme, Peter Gethin, and Peter Revson. In each instance the race was no contest, as the orange McLarens simply were the ones to beat. Their stranglehold on the Can-Am was broken in 1972 when Porsche practiced extreme excess in their designs. Porsche built a twin turbocharged five-liter V-12 engine that put out well over 1000 horsepower. They hired Roger Penske's team to run the car, and as expected, they won as they pleased. George Follmer took the win at Road America in 1972 and Mark Donohue in 1973, each winning the season championship.
The Can-Am was last held in 1974, its demise essentially due to its success. That is, with virtually no rules, only one or two teams could reasonably win, so the rest went home. But while it lasted it was most memorable. The fans reacted accordingly with the biggest crowds ever at Road America until the top CART years of the mid 1990s which is exactly why Road America and fans alike enjoy the return of the Can-Am cars every year during the WeatherTech® International Challenge with Brian Redman presented by HAWK.
The festivities kick off on Thursday, July 18, with gates opening at 7 a.m. Test sessions begin at 7:30 a.m. and run throughout the entire day. On Friday the on-track action resumes with practice sessions in the morning and qualifying sessions in the afternoon.
Friday evening, the tiny village of Elkhart Lake will spring to life with a blend of art-on-wheels as over 100 race cars will parade from the track to downtown Elkhart Lake for judging and spectator viewing beginning at 5:45 p.m., for the Concours d'Elegance.
This event is a must-see spectacle for enthusiasts of all ages as the quiet town is taken over by vintage racing cars. The sound, while not as visceral as being at the track itself is unique in that you are seeing the pinnacle of vintage racing rumble through public roads. Standing ten feet from a 1,000-horsepower big block Can-Am car, or the beyond mad 80's Formula 1 turbo cars as they idle and rev by you is a sensation that goes beyond hearing and it is inexplicably cool.
Everyone is invited to take part in the concours viewing but Road America encourages fans and patrons to arrive early (before 5 p.m.) to allow enough time for parking and to find your perfect viewing location along the parade route and Lake Street where the race cars will park. Please consider these alternate routes into Elkhart Lake. County Road A from the East, Golf Course Road from the South and County Road J from the West.
On Saturday qualifying resumes in the morning for all groups. Then in the afternoon racing gets underway with qualifying races for each group. Over 100 sports cars will then gather again on Saturday evening in downtown Elkhart Lake from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the second night of the Concours d'Elegance. Brimming with rarity, the street fills again. Most of these cars are rare metal, fast metal, and only once in a lifetime that you will see them metal. The access again is unprecedented.
The Village once again will be implementing the detours and road closures for the concours. The major road closings will be E. Rhine Street from Lincoln Street to the intersection of Gottfried and Pine Streets. All roads that intersect with E. Rhine Street will also be closed as to allow no traffic onto E. Rhine during the closure time. In addition, S. Lake and S. East Streets will be closed like in previous years. All closures will start at 3:00 p.m. and last until approximately 9:00 p.m.
Seeing owners giving little kids seat time in the cars is part of the fun. In short, events like this, having the young ones exposed to the cars, and the sensations surrounding the event is critical to continuing the heritage of vintage racing and events like The WeatherTech® International Challenge with Brian Redman presented by HAWK make all of this possible.
On Sunday, the featured racing begins at 7:30 a.m. Races are held until 11:45 a.m., when the Concours d'Elegance awards for Best Street and Race car; Best of Show and the People's Choice award are announced near Victory Lane and the paddock vendor area which is centrally located in the paddock. The rest of the day is filled with exciting feature races for each group. Other fan attractions include autograph sessions, an automotive art and vendor fair, on-track touring, disc golf, a family fun zone in Turn 1 and public go-karting at the CTECH Manufacturing Motorplex.
Tickets are available online or during the event at the gate. Additional information is available at www.roadamerica.com or by calling 800-365-RACE (7223). All races run rain or shine and anyone 16-years-old and under are free with a paying adult at the gate. Parking and paddock access are also free.
About Road America: Established in 1955, Road America is located midway between Milwaukee and Green Bay in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The world's best racers have competed at this legendary four-mile, 14-turn road circuit for over 60 years. The 640-acre, park-like grounds offer amazing viewing opportunities, fantastic concessions and high-speed excitement to hundreds of thousands of spectators each year. In addition to public race weekends, Road America offers a variety of group event programs, the CTECH Manufacturing Motorplex for karting and supermoto, and the Road America Motorcycle and Advanced Driving Schools. For more information, visit www.roadamerica.com Follow Road America onwww.facebook.com/RoadAmerica and on Twitter: @roadamerica or call 800-365-7223.