Road America ready for IndyCar series – Green Bay Press Gazette

7 months ago Comments Off on Road America ready for IndyCar series – Green Bay Press Gazette

Road America often has been looked at by IndyCar drivers and fans as one of the best places to have a race.

So both were happy when it was announced in August that Road America was on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, with the venue hosting an event June 24-26.

The stop in Elkhart Lake is part of a 16-race season highlighted by the Indianapolis 500 next month. Along with the IndyCar Series, all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy will compete during the weekend.

This reunion has been a long time coming.

Road America hosted the CART and Champ Car series from 1982 to 2007 and has had some of the biggest names in racing compete. It’s a list that includes Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi.

There has been a delicate balance to work through between the Milwaukee Mile and Road America, since the venues are separated by only about 60 miles. The Milwaukee Mile is not on the schedule for the race series this year.

“We didn’t want to really upset any of the balance there, and now that the balance has swayed toward Road America, we are excited to put on a good show and keep it moving forward,” said John Ewert, communications director with Road America. “There could be potential that the Mile might return. In that case, that’s where we would work with the Mile to make sure dates are working appropriately in the schedule.

“That way everybody gets the best out of it. Back in the day you used to go to the Indy 500 and then drive up to Road America. You kind of made your summer out of that. Lots of fans remember that and want to revisit that.”

If IndyCar’s return to the Phoenix International Raceway this past weekend is any indication, Road America should be in line for a good turnout this summer. The event attracted about 20,000 fans.

The Phoenix International Raceway also has a strong tradition and hosted IndyCar races from 1964 to 2005 before its hiatus.

“It was a great event, and I think here is going to be awesome,” said Simon Pagenaud, who was in Green Bay on Monday and is the IndyCar series’ points leader after two races. “It’s an event for IndyCar, and the fans are always great here in Road America.

“I had a chance to race a lot in sports cars here, and the fans always show up. It should be a great race. It’s quite a unique track.”

Pagenaud pointed out Road America has kept its character over the years. Some of the other venues he competes at aren’t quite as difficult as the one here.

Drivers love the hills, turns and straightaways of the track, and it often produces a lot of speed. Road America’s course configuration has not changed, while many other courses have widened their tracks and changed some of the curves or configurations that makes things a bit less challenging for drivers.

Most of them relish the challenges of those turns, elevation changes and braking zones. It often can separate the good drivers from the great ones.

Road America also is a 4-mile course in a sport where the majority of the others in the United States are around 2 to 2.7 miles.

“Most of the time the racing series takes away the gravel and makes it tarmac everywhere so it’s easy to drive and you don’t speed and crash,” Pagenaud said, “where Road America has really kept the unique nature of it. You also are driving through nature, which is really cool. It’s a long track. We don’t get to race on long tracks like this anymore. So it’s quite special.”

Road America ready for IndyCar series – Green Bay Press Gazette

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