Way back during the last Century, some of my British car friends and I discovered vintage auto racing at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. We first learned about it from a small ad that had been placed in a British car magazine. Curiosity got the best of us, so we called the telephone number in the ad to obtain more information. We then decided to venture out to find out what vintage auto racing was all about. After all, if British cars were involved, it had to he interesting.
It was a five hour drive from where we lived, so we got up very early in the morning so we could be there in time for the early time trials. Once we had broken free of the hustle and bustle of Chicago, and into the state of Wisconsin, we drove through some of the most beautiful rolling, green countryside that our eye's had ever feasted upon. When we first arrived at the track, we found it to be nestled within the beautiful landscaped hills near the small historic town of Elkhart Lake. We drove through the entrance, and feasted our eyes upon dozens of little, bright, colorful sports cars from the past. Among them, were cars built in Britain, Germany, Italy, Sweden, France, and the United States. Some of them were buzzing around the historic 4 mile road racing track, and others were being prepped in the paddock by their trusty crew members, prior to their exciting turn on the track. Of course there were other various types of vintage cars scattered here and fro, just for the fun of it, that had been driven to the track by wanna be racers like ourselves.
For that entire day, we were like young children in a candy store. We couldn't believe there was a place with vintage British sports cars racing around a track within a half days drive of our homes in Northern Indiana. The chance to watch these cars do what they did so well back in their glory days was a very special treat. Needless to say, we have been hooked on vintage racing ever since, and now it's one of the first British car related events on our list of things to do in the springtime, when the snow has melted, the flowers are blooming, and it's time to enjoy our little British cars once again after a long winter's rest.
Road America is a beautiful race track that was carved out of the picturesque Wisconsin countryside years ago during the early 1950's, when road racing on public roads became taboo for safety reasons, and there was a need for an official road racing track. The new official track was opened for its first race in 1955. The rolling hills, and smooth twisty roads were simply perfect for road racing, and it became a very popular place. Many years ago the original races were run throughout the countryside, and through the town of Elkhart Lake. The local country roads were closed off to any outside traffic just for these road racing events. Those days are now memories for some, but today vintage car owners are creating new memories for those who take the time to attend these events.
The photo's below are a taste of what's been going on at Road America during recent years, but they are no replacement for the real thing. The cars, the drivers, the sound of the engines roaring, the fresh Wisconsin air, and the beautiful landscape.
|Phil Coombs driving MJG 582, a 1957 Austin-Healey 100-6. The photo at the right shows him attempting to overtake a Porsche 356.|
|MJG 582 one lap later when the cars began to spread out a bit. The Healey won the race, beating the Ferarri, Corvette, & a pack of Porsche's.|
|Here's MJG 582 taking a much deserved rest after the race. One nice advantage of vintage races is that you can normally walk right up to the cars to have a first hand look, and the owners are usually very happy to talk about their cars.|
|Joe Alexander of Cedar Falls, Iowa, driving his Triumph TR4 #197. In this photo, Joe is attempting to overtake a Porsche 356. Joe and his son's take turns racing this car. Great father and son bonding!|
|A Group 44 Triumph GT6 having some great fun on the track. This car has some great racing history, and proved that it had great potential on the race track. It ran flawlessly on this race day.|
|The GT6 was running very strong, and won the race!|
|The pit crew getting the Group 44 GT6 ready for its next turn on the track.|
|Not every car leaves the track under its own power. Fortunately, the driver of this Triumph Spitfire was not hurt.|
|A group of Triumph boys having a good time back at the padock sharing some great racing stories about their Triumph TR3's. Do you suppose they're all true?|
|A group of pre-war cars, including Bentley, MG, and Bugatti. Can you identify any of the others? The Bentley (large car with driver and co-driver) was holding its own on the track. But then again, who's going to argue with them!!|
|A Swallow Doretti with Triumph running gear. You never know for sure what might show up at these races.|
|Two Austin-Healey Bugeyed Sprites trying to intimidate a Triumph TR6, and stay ahead of a Kas Kastner prepared Triumph Vitesse. The Vitesse was the car to watch on this day. It won several races.|
|Here's a shot of a Lotus, Austin Mini Cooper, and a Sumbeam Alpine fighting over the front position that is currently owned by this BMW.|
|MG's, Bugatti, and Morgan stretch their legs on the straightaway.|
|A Jaguar XKE trying to take on another pesky Porsche.|