Road America – Why We Love This Place!

Susan
By Susan Phillips

Nothing has ever hit home to me as much as this weekend: real world time versus race track time. Road America in Elkhart Lake is one of those places where you completely lose track of time. We left Nashville on Thursday and got to Wisconsin late that night—after ending up in a traffic jam right outside of Nashville and taking a small detour to visit Paul Dalbey. We arrived at the track at a decent hour on Friday, picked up our golf cart (a MUST at RA), and headed to the Media Center. After a quick post, we were off to reacquaint ourselves with the track. We love this place. You should definitely put it on your bucket list for a future race.

RA Sign Main

The Must-Haves:

A Golf Cart

It is so well worth the money to rent a golf cart. Our 2-person cart cost $330 for the weekend. Don’t worry about getting your steps in–I still walked about 3 miles on race day–even with a golf cart. The golf cart is your ticket to get to the ENTIRE track easily without wearing yourself out. Here’s a short video from Kettle Bottoms through Canada Corner, which is just a fraction of the grounds. It can also help you scope out the best place(s) to view the race. With a golf cart, you can watch the race from more than one vantage point without schlepping your gear up and down the hills. There are jumbotrons around the grounds and it is first-come, first-serve for the best spot at the fence.

jumbotron

fans

You can pretty much go anywhere on a golf cart at Road America. Make sure you reserve well ahead of time as they sell out early. I can’t stress how worth the money it is so you can see the whole track. If you have ever seen George and I side-by-side, you know I have to take two steps to every one of his. I don’t think I would go to this race without being able to ride. I walk all day at work, so covering the grounds at Road America on foot is not my idea of fun. They do have shuttles to get around, but I think they just go on the main roads.

Shuttle

An Appetite

The food at this track is unbelievably good and reasonably-priced. I’m used to paying eight to ten 10 dollars for a beer and another six dollars for a hot dog. At Road America, the beer (TONS of different kinds) is five dollars and you can get a brat for about $4.50. So you could do a meal for about ten bucks. We were told an “Egger” from the Gear Box was a must have for breakfast, and we were not disappointed. They averaged from a plain egg on an artisan bun to more elaborate additions. I went for the ham and George went for the bacon—you could even do a brat egger if you wanted. And it would not be Wisconsin if you didn’t have a brat with German brown mustard on it.

brat

egger line

Your Wallet

The gift shop at Road America is very reasonably-priced. I got a nice hoodie for $30, a hat and t-shirt for my son for $20 each, which is very reasonable. They have everything from Man Cave décor to pet supplies. All were reasonably priced.

womens clothes

kids apparel

Wall Hangings

Where to Stay

Last year, we stayed in Sheboygan, but the rates more than doubled for race weekend this year, so we went to Fond du Lac, which was still reasonably priced. There are many towns in the area that have hotels for every budget. This year many people stayed in Manitowoc, WI which is about 45 minutes away.

Road America is actually closer to a town called Plymouth, which is a very charming, old-fashioned town. We saw a B and B called 52 Stafford in Plymouth, which was reasonably priced for non-race weekends. I am not sure how high the prices are on race weekend.

52 stafford

If your budget is high, you can always stay at the Osthoff Resort, which is basically like a whole city. Right across from Elkhart lake, it is a AAA Four Diamond Resort. It does sell out for race weekend, so if this is within your budget, it looks like a great place to stay.

osthoff

Then there’s the traditional Siebkens Resort, I suspect it books up quickly and I am not entirely sure of the room rates during race weekend. It has a tavern, and ice cream shop, and a restaurant on the property. Elkhart Lake is right across the street from Siebkens with a sandy beach and docks.

siebken

You can also camp on the grounds, but I am not sure how much it costs. You can rent a spot on the front straightaway for campers and tents if you like. There is firewood to purchase and you can rent a site with electricity, but there are no sites with water hookup. There are restrooms and showers on the grounds if you like roughing it. I’m not sure of the prices…we are not campers.

camping

Things To Do At The Track

Aside from watching the multitude of motorsports races and practices for the weekend. From 8 until 5 each day, there was not a time there not race cars of some kind on the track. In fact, when walking in the roundabout near the gift shop, it is not unusual to share the walk with a Mazda Road to Indy car.

Car Roundabout

Disc Golf

There is an 18 hole disc golf course on site that is free. You can rent discs in the Paddock/Gift Shop

Public Karting

George and I participated this year. When watching the karts, they appear to be going really slow, but when you get behind the wheel is a different story. The track is nice and roomy, and allows for lots of passing. When we went out, they allowed for 15 karts on the track at a time. I ran off into the grass once, but easily recovered. It is a challenging and fun course. It costs $20 for a ten minute drive, there are other prices available, including a weekend pass for $175. You must be over 14 to participate in karting.

Zip Line

I almost tried this, but I thought I was pushing my luck by karting. It costs $20 for one zip line ride. They have other packages available—like a two zip package for $40. You pay for the tickets at the zip line landing spot and they shuttle you to the top of the zip line tower.

Tower

On Saturday and Sunday, there is a Family Fun Zone for adult-accompanied children. It had bouncy houses and slides, small bicycles, and other things to burn the energy of the young ones.

Family Fun

There is something for everyone at Road America. If you plan your budget and vacation days widely, it can be an affordable trip. It takes about 9-10 hours form Nashville and our biggest expenditure is the hotel room (if we can’t use hotel points) and the golf cart. There are lots of options around for lodging and dining, so you can make it as budget-friendly as you like. So if I had to prioritize, it would be lodging, golf cart, brats, and cheese curds. Can’t leave Wisconsin without the cheese curds!

Please Note:  Susan and I left Road America on Monday and are now vacationing all this week on the other side of Lake Michigan along its beaches. Since we are resting and relaxing, I am going to also take a vacation from this site. This will be the last post until we return to work on Wednesday July 5, when I’ll post about the proposed street course race in Nashville. I hope everyone has a safe and restful Fourth of July – GP

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9 Responses to “Road America – Why We Love This Place!”

  1. How far is Sheboygan from the track? Years ago I worked for an insurance company headquartered in Sheboyban. I was there for a couple weeks in the 1990’s and wouldn’t mind going back as part of a visit to the track. Very nice town. Luckily I was there in July so it was very pleasant summer weather.

  2. DZ-groundedeffects Says:

    Thank you for the detailed review! I appreciate this info because I’m now certain it’s a can’t miss for me for 2018. Not only for the racing but for the other bits of fun to be had.

  3. billytheskink Says:

    The 18 hole disc golf course may have sold me.
    I’m a terrible disc golfer, but darned if it isn’t satisfying when you finally do get your Frisbee in that basket.

  4. Ron Ford Says:

    I am not a big fan of reading or writing omg, but OMG! What a wonderful post to see this morning! Thank you so much for taking the time to take and post all these photos. Enjoy your trip on the east side of the pond. Petosky is very easy on the eyes. I admire both of you for being willing to drive nine hours and brave the Tollway to get to the track. Out of curiousity I am going to ask the other famous George (Bruggenthies-the RA owner/promoter) what they do to keep deer away from the RA track. I don’t remember if Christiana Da Matta ever recovered enough from having a deer land in his cockpit at RA to race again.

  5. Thanks Susan. A cart is a must for me next time. We stayed in Oshkosh, which is not too far north of Fond du Lac.

    Happy 4th one and all!

  6. Well written Susan. I would have enjoyed the merchandise store as well. Did they have any nice dri-fit polos?

  7. Ron Ford Says:

    It is July 4th. I have just found time to look at your videos. I think that the golf cart tour video would be particularly helpful to anyone contemplating a trip to Road America. Given your interest in traveling the east side of the lake on your way home, I believe I am correct in saying that there is a ferry that travels from somewhere over there in Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. It takes about 3 hours to cross the lake. That might be an alternative way (though more expensive) to get to the race to avoid the Illinois Tollway.

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