What A Day At Road America!
Sometimes when you fantasize about doing something for so long, the expectations in your head become so inflated that there is no way for reality to meet those expectations. Such was not the case for Road America today. I have been wanting to come here for more than thirty years. Since I arrived here for the first time ever today, I have not been disappointed. My only complaint? The day went by way too quickly.
If you’ve never been here and plan on coming, listen to the advice of a one-day veteran – spend the money to rent a golf cart. When we were at Barber in April, someone told Susan that little tip. She followed up on it and booked one that weekend through the Road America website. I thought it was a waste of money, but she said she would pay for it. How wrong I was! This place is huge! There are many trails and cart paths to the secluded parts of this massive track. Here you can drive your cart right up to the track and just sit right on it and watch the cars.
After my post this morning, we went to go pick it up. It’s a good thing she booked in April because they were sold out. We immediately set off to explore the area, just after Susan decorated it with Oilpressure livery that she put together with her graphic design skills.
We found several good spots; such as inside Station Five and the Moraine Sweep leading up to it. Then we rode up to a concession stand that overlooked the Carousel. There I had my first brat of the weekend with some local beer I had never heard of, but it was very good just the same. We sat in the cart in the shade, ate a delicious brat, drank a cold beer and watched race cars run underneath us as we overlooked a very scenic view. Life just doesn’t get much better than that.
We rode around and checked out a couple of other vantage points before heading to the gift shop. It was very impressive and they offered more than what the souvenir trailers around the track had. Susan bought a Road America jacket that was actually tasteful.
That was when it occurred to me how crowded this place was for a Friday practice day. There were people everywhere.
My camping days are way behind me, but if I were a camper – this would be the place to do it. The campers looked like they had been set up for a couple of days. There are countless designated camping areas here – many right up against the track. I would think it would be great to wake up and cook breakfast while race cars are whizzing by for the morning warm-up.
At 1:00, we went to the media luncheon that was a Q&A session moderated by Robin Miller and featuring Michael Andretti, Paul Tracy and Juan Montoya. There was some good give and take and some honest opinions offered up by all three. They all told stories from the nineties and early 2000’s. There was nothing eye-opening or newsworthy, but it was a very enjoyable way to spend an hour. And what did I choose off of the buffet? Another brat.
After that, we met up with “Mike from Vernon Hills” – the legendary caller to The Talk of Gasoline Alley with Donald Davidson who also won the Oilpressure.com Trivia Contest. He was sporting the Oilpressure polo that he earned by winning the contest. Since I was wearing one that was identical, Susan could not pass up the chance for a photo.
For the afternoon practice, we went to the north end of the track to Canada Corner. It’s amazing how wooded that area of the track is. I noticed that they have now put catch fencing and concrete barriers in the wooded section. In the nineties, that section was mostly guardrails with no fencing. We sat there for a while and watched as the cars went through the famous corner one at a time.
Finally, we ended up at Turn Fourteen where we watched the cars hit the rumble strips before heading up the 110-foot hill to the Start-Finish line, as the IndyCar practice came to a close. For the record, Graham Rahal was the quickest in Session 2.
We then scouted out a couple of more vantage points and essentially explored all of the trails, while the Pirelli World Challenge cars took the track. Before I knew it, it was almost 6:00 and I needed to come back in and write. The day flew by. I can only imagine that tomorrow will be more of the same.
Tomorrow I plan to actually focus more on racing, but I was simply enthralled with our new surroundings today. Needless to say, Road America met my expectations.