Hundreds of vintage racers will make the journey to Elkhart Lake this weekend for the annual WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman presented by HAWK at Road America.
It takes place Thursday through Sunday and is widely known as one of the largest vintage racing gatherings in the United States, as over 400 cars are expected to participate in 11 different groups subdivided into several sub-classes.
An MG Focus Event is the feature this year, which is fitting because they have been a part of the track’s essential character since its inception.
Sept. 10-11, 1955, was the inaugural weekend for Road America. The SCCA Chicago Region ran the races and they were sanctioned as a National Championship event. There were two categories, Production and Modified, with several classes in each category. Three races were held on Saturday and four were held on Sunday.
The first event at Road America was an 8-lap, 32-mile race for G Production cars (MG’s). A field of TC’s, TD’s, and TF’s ran in that first race, with Roy Heath winning the event in his TC. The average speed was 59.6 mph and the fastest laps were about 4 minutes.
During the 1950s “Golden Age” of American sports-car racing, one of the most competitive specials was the Echidna, which ruled SCCA C and B/Modified competition. Just three Echidnas were built in all and this year all three will be at the WeatherTech International Challenge to celebrate their 60th anniversary of the 1959 B/Modified National Championship.
In addition, the master’s Historic Formula One USA grid is joined by the brand-new master’s Endurance Legends USA series.
Along with honoring the MG and Echidna, Road America celebrates the 53rd Anniversary of the Canadian-American Challenge or Can-Am Series.
This is perhaps the most fondly remembered racing series ever, as it had minimal rules. Two seats, fendered bodywork, and that was about it. Unlimited engines, fat tires and unimaginable speed sums up what Can-Am was.
The Can-Am was last held in 1974, its demise essentially due to its success. That is, with virtually no rules, only one or two teams could reasonably win, so the rest went home. But while it lasted it was most memorable. The fans reacted accordingly with the biggest crowds ever at Road America until the top CART years of the mid 1990s which is exactly why Road America and fans alike enjoy the return of the Can-Am cars every year during the WeatherTech International Challenge.
The festivities kick off on Thursday with gates opening at 7 a.m. Test sessions begin at 7:30 and run throughout the entire day.
On Friday, the on-track action resumes with practice sessions in the morning and qualifying sessions in the afternoon.
Elkhart Lake then hosts the Concours d’Elegance, as over 100 race cars will parade from the track to the village’s downtown for judging and spectator viewing beginning at 5:45 p.m.
Road America encourages everyone to arrive before 5:00 to allow enough time for parking and to find a viewing location. Alternate routes to consider into Elkhart Lake are County Road A from the East, Golf Course Road from the South and County Road J from the West.
On Saturday, qualifying resumes in the morning for all groups. In the afternoon, racing gets underway with qualifying for each group. Over 100 sports cars will then gather again on in the evening in downtown Elkhart Lake from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the second night of the Concours d’Elegance.
The featured racing begins at 7:30 a.m on Sunday until 11:45 a.m., when the Concours d’Elegance awards for Best Street and Race car; Best of Show and the People’s Choice award are announced near Victory Lane and the paddock vendor area which is centrally located in the paddock.
Tickets are available online or during the event at the gate. Additional information is available at www.roadamerica.com or by calling 800-365-RACE (7223).