By Logan Schroeder
Having lived in Sheboygan County for all of my 25 years, I have enjoyed so much of what the area has to offer, such as the gorgeous lakefront, top-notch local food, and prestigious golf courses. One attraction, however, that I had yet to cross off my list is a day at the races at Elkhart Lake’s Road America. Earlier this summer, I had the privilege to take in some thrilling IndyCar action at the Sonsio Grand Prix while exploring all the spectacular amenities and features unique to Road America.
From the moment I ventured through Gate 3 into Road America, it didn’t take long for me to realize why America’s National Park of Speed was brimming with exhilaration. Children giggled as they whizzed down the slides in the Family Fun Zone, racing enthusiasts hopped onto golf carts to zip to the next turn spot, and the eyes of spectators in the grandstands at Turn 1 would widen with anticipation as the racers were quickly approaching. Making my way toward the Main Gate and Turn 13, I could have been convinced that I really was in a national park, where the easternmost corner of the park is complete with quieter, shaded areas and trails winding through the woods. Coming up around the corner past the Main Gate, though, I saw and heard firsthand why Turn 13 is aptly named “Thunder Valley.” My favorite turn on the course, you will feel the pulsating whir of racers jockeying for position as they zoom toward the course’s lengthiest straightaway. Do not forget your earplugs! I learned this the hard way – needless to say, my ears were ringing for bit.
I next ventured toward the Paddock, which was no doubt my favorite Road America attraction. After a decently long walk in the summer afternoon, I grabbed a walking taco and a refreshing ice cream and was still able to catch the action from the video board livestream. After spending some leisurely time on the Paddock, it wasn’t long before I was drawn to the commotion coming from the pit stops. After a brief drizzle, the course director, racers, and team members were in the middle of lively deliberation on how to proceed. Some pit crew members scrambled about, while others intensely discussed course conditions via handheld radio. The key decision they needed to agree upon was whether the cars would need to switch from dry to wet tires. Racers were informed there would be a delay, but after a short one, the caution was lifted without a mandatory tire change, and the race resumed. You won’t find many elite racetracks that provide the spectator with such an incredible opportunity to be able to get so close to the racers and their team!
As I trekked toward the western side of the course, I couldn’t help but smile seeing all the campsites set up, complete with dads firing up the grill as the children played nearby. It reminded of the tailgating experience ahead of a Brewer game! As someone who works for Johnsonville Sausage, I had to check out the Johnsonville Bridge as well as the one sponsored by Sargento. As you walk across these bridges, you will feel like you are on the course pavement as the race vibrations course through you; not to mention you get a fantastic bird’s eye view of the track!
I had a wonderful time at Road America, and I could go on and on about all there is fun to do, from the great food, biking, camping, and so much more, but one thing is for sure – Road America has something for everyone. Road America still has plenty of race-filled weekends remaining in the 2022 season, including NASCAR June 30th – July 3rd and IMSA SportsCar Weekend on August 4th – 7th. Make it a point to come out to America’s National Park of Speed this summer and bring the whole family – everyone is sure to have a blast!
Logan Schroeder is a lifelong resident of Sheboygan County who graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran College in 2019. In his free time, Logan can be found rooting on his favorite WI sports teams. He also enjoys finding ways to stay fit and active by playing a variety of sports and running – all over Sheboygan County!