Loving Road America
Welcome to a currently wet Road America. It’s raining right now, but the sun is supposed to break through around 10:00 and things should be dry by the race.
When George and I decided to add Road America to our race season this year, I didn’t think much about it. For George, it was on his “Bucket List” of tracks that he wanted to attend, for me, it was another road race track, which meant plenty of walking, so I had better get in shape.
The closer it got to the race, the more I asked questions of other fans who had attended. The best piece of advice I got was to rent a golf cart. I looked at the prices and it was pretty budge-prohibitive. But as a person who has to take three steps for every one step that George takes, I didn’t know if I could survive it. After entering the gates, it was the best $330 I have ever spent. I was grateful I reserved the cart in April (shortly after Barber), because as the race neared, they sold out of golf carts.
The best part of having full access to the grounds—and not having to walk it—are all the things I would have missed had we not been able to cover all 640 acres of Road America. One of the things most notable about Road America is that this is a very family-friendly track. The Kid Zone may only have a few inflatables, but they have gone one better—they have NATURE. There are many family-friendly trails on the grounds—just be on the lookout for golf carts at all times.
That might be one of the hardest parts for parents—to make sure their kids stay out of the way of the wheeled vehicles. I saw many families biking their way through the grounds—if you decide to go this route, make sure all of the members of your family are comfortable on rough terrain and they are wearing helmets. I saw a close call between a young child on a bicycle and one of the Pirelli World Challenge cars in the congested area behind the paddock. So make sure that you keep an eye on your youngest bike-rider.
Speaking of nature, they have you covered. The grounds are tastefully scattered with porta-potties that look like they just happened to sprout up. They went for the few clustered in many places around the grounds look, as opposed to the massive banks of them that cause a lot of waiting in line.
There are several brick and mortar restrooms on the grounds as well. There is a large public restroom near the Paddock Gift Shop. The Paddock Gift shop is one of my favorite places. The merchandise is very reasonably priced. I got a really nice hoodie for $38—which I think is a steal. There are gift tents around the grounds as well. IndyCar has a large tent and a few smaller tents on the grounds.
If by chance you hear the words “I’m bored,” you can solve that problem by allowing your child free rein on one of the many rolling hillsides. Or by spying some of the wildlife on the grounds. We have seen deer and other small animals roaming the grounds.
Speaking of animals roaming the grounds–we have seen several dogs here. Road America discourages bringing your family pet, but if they are well-behaved, on a leash, and you clean up after them, it is acceptable. “Remember, you are on racing grounds and act accordingly.”
There are plenty of places to camp around the grounds, do some research and ask some previous campers questions about which is the best area—I’m not much of a camper, but for a camper and a race fan—this would be the track to camp in. Imagine waking up to the sounds of cars on track as you make you grill your breakfast and tailgate all day. There have been cars of some kind on track the entire weekend we have been here.
There are many concession stands to choose from and a lot of them are run by local charities—so tip well! You can get everything from organic juices to the traditional brat. A fan favorite is the ice cream line at the St. John the Baptist concession stand. They have soft-serve ice cream, shakes, and homemade ice cream sandwiches (think home-baked chocolate chip cookie with ice cream in the middle). It’s raining now, but for the race, the temps are supposed to be in the mid-80’s, so I’m sure it will be a popular line. Did I mention that they serve beer in that line also?
For the adventurous, there is a zip line that starts near Thunder Valley and ends near Turn 14. I’m very tempted by this one, it’s a possibility if the lines are not too long. Also there is an outdoor Karting Track, which looks like fun to me—even after my last karting experience. It seems like a pretty big track and you can keep a good distance between the karts.
So all-in-all–I’m loving Road America. Did I mention that the seating is first-come-first-served? So get here early for the best seats! We will be watching the race from several vantage points, depending on the size of the crowd. Judging from the past few days, it is bound to be a very large turnout.
Those of you who are watching at home, make plans to be here next year. But take my advice—rent a golf cart and rent it early!