2012 Road America Road Race Showcase, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin / © HodagMedia
March/April 2016

Unlikely Adventure Spot

Road America meets the needs of thrill-seekers, as well as nature lovers

BYIrene Middleman Thomas
If you’re a race fan, a wannabe speedster, or auto history buff, you’ll want to add Road America to your short list of travel destinations. 
 
Known as “America’s National Park of Speed,” Road America is less than 2 miles from Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The forested, 640-acre site is open year-round. From May to September it hosts international motor sports events such as NASCAR, American LeMans, the Corvette World Tribute, and various motorcycle competitions on its 4.048-mile track and interior Briggs & Stratton Motorplex. 
 
To fully appreciate today’s Road America, it’s helpful to understand its history. In the early 1950s, top sports car drivers traveled from around the world to take on the hills and sharp corners of Elkhart Lake’s open-road race circuit. Many World War II vets had returned to the quiet area and appreciated the action and thrills they could experience at the circuit. But 60 years ago, open-road racing was banned, and the circuit morphed into the international motor sports venue of Road America. The historic circuit remains a lovely scenic drive, marked with nostalgic signs such as Wacker’s Wend, Kimberly’s Korner, and Dicken’s Ditch, all commemorating early racers.
 
Road America allows visitors access to the paddocks and pits, which is a rare treat. Thrill-seekers also can dabble in other adventure sports such as paintball, ATV rides, go-karting, motorcycling, supermoto, and zip-lining. Those who prefer a more relaxed pace can enjoy tamer activities such as disc golf and geocaching. 
 
In town, enjoy the village of Elkhart Lake’s tree-lined lanes and lush flower gardens, found just steps from the lake itself. At just over a mile in size, the village has fewer than 1,000 permanent residents. Nestled between Milwaukee and Green Bay, it has myriad recreational activities (both on and off the 282-acre lake), as well as excellent restaurants and charming shops. Lodging options range from small bed and breakfasts to the lavish, estate-like Osthoff Resort. The resort is home to a world-class culinary school, L’ecole de la Maison (open to the public), as well as a sumptuous full-service spa. The Osthoff also is the site of an authentic German Christmas Market for 10 days each December.
IRENE MIDDLEMAN THOMAS writes about travel, lifestyle, health and more from her Colorado home. 
If You Go
Elkhart Lake, toll-free 1-877-355-4278
Road America, 1-800-365-7223
 
 
Learn More
Visit AAA.com or call your local AAA Travel agent toll-free at 1-888-870-9392 to plan your getaway and experience everything the area has to offer.
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