Contact: [email protected]
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin – Summer is in full swing and this year hundreds of vintage racers will make the journey to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin to celebrate the beauty and performance of some of the world’s greatest racecars and sports cars, July 20 – 23 at Road America for the WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman presented by HAWK.
Widely known as one of the largest vintage racing gatherings in the United States, over 450 cars are expected to participate and both racecars and sports cars from all walks of vintage are welcome. With 14 different groups subdivided into several sub-classes the breadth of cars has something for everyone and there will be no shortage of spectacular racing.
Every year has a feature marque and this year as participants descend on the historic circuit Road America plans to honor the Chevrolet Camaro as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary and host a reunion for the Sports 2000 racer as it celebrates its 40th Anniversary along with celebrating the 51st Anniversary of the Canadian-American Challenge or Can-Am Series.
Having the Chevrolet Camaro serve as the featured marque for The WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman is a fitting tribute for one of America’s most iconic sports cars at America’s greatest road course because Camaros are part of Road America’s essential character and have raced at the fabled four-mile 14-turn circuit for decades.
Racing has always been present in the Chevrolet Camaro’s bloodstream and Road America’s high-speed four-mile track has long been a battleground for generations of notable racers. With drivers such as Mark Donohue driving for Roger Penske, Chevrolet Camaros became a formidable threat in the ‘over 2 liter’ category of the SCCA Trans-Am Series while taking top honors in 1969. Donohue’s background as an engineer gave him a unique perspective and during this period he changed forever the way racing cars are developed. Penske meanwhile brought the art of sponsorship to a new level. This success was just the beginning of the Z/28 legacy of racing performance and the Chevrolet Camaro has went on to become one of the most sought after collector cars, no matter what the year, and a current model has been announced this year to carry on the legacy.
Always evolving, every version of the Chevrolet Camaro has been embraced over the decades, offering people a way to express themselves. Camaros have been a canvas for personalization and competition. From 600-horsepower-plus versions that can exceed 200 mph to the most affordable models that get more than 30 mpg and deliver more than 300 horsepower, Chevrolet and the Camaro’s universal appeal has made it a symbol of Americana.
Road America is proud to continue the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Camaro with a racer’s reunion, races for club and pro series-vintage, historic and contemporary racers; a concours with expert and people’s choice awards, track touring, parade laps and a vendor marketplace making The 2017 WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman the ultimate destination for Camaro enthusiasts and an event that everyone of all ages can enjoy.
The sights and sounds of rare and historically significant Sports 2000 racing machines will make their return for The WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman at Road America as well while the popular Sports 2000 racer celebrates its 40th Anniversary.
Preceded by the International 2-liter, two-seat FIA Group 6 sports racing car class, Sports 2000 was the creation of Brands Hatch circuit owner John Webb in 1976, as an antidote to the high costs and dwindling entries of the Chevrons, Lolas and Abarths in the early and mid 70’s. With a tightly controlled motor specification, reasonable tire cost and the support of the largest and most successful commercial racing car manufacturers at the time, the first race was held at Oulton Park in April 1977 and won by Olympic ski champion, Divina Galica, in a Lola T-490.
US Lola importer Carl Haas brought over five Sports 2000’s for a group of SCCA racers in the Midwest in the fall of 1978, the class being accorded SCCA National status in 1980 and continuing on today. These cars have a strong following internationally, with active groups particularly in the UK and the USA along with those in Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Australia. In addition to nearly 55 Sports 2000 racers expected in the paddock will be the most widely decorated Sports 2000 in America, piloted by John C Fergus II, with eight SCCA Runoffs championships and one Pro Sports 2000 championship to its credit.
Competitors and fans will have the unique opportunity to catch all the action from these rare racers as they traverse through Turn 5, negotiate Canada Corner and barrel up the famed Front Straight to capture a bit of history. The Sports 2000’s will be on track with qualifying on Saturday and a special race on Sunday.
Along with honoring the Chevrolet Camaro and Sports 2000, Road America celebrates the 51st 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 and the McLaren team ruled the early years. They won five years in a row at Road America, twice with Bruce McLaren and once each with Denny Hulme, Peter Gethin, and Peter Revson. In each instance the race was no contest, as the orange McLarens simply were the ones to beat.
Their stranglehold on the Can-Am was broken in 1972 when Porsche practiced extreme excess in their designs. Porsche built a twin turbocharged five-liter V-12 engine that put out well over 1000 horsepower. They hired Roger Penske’s team to run the car, and as expected, they won as they pleased. George Follmer took the win at Road America in 1972 and Mark Donohue in 1973, each winning the season championship.
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 return of IndyCar in 2016, which is exactly why Road America and fans alike enjoy the return of the Can-Am cars every year during the WeatherTech® International Challenge with Brian Redman presented by HAWK.
The festivities kick off on Thursday, July 20, with gates opening at 7 a.m. Test sessions begin at 8 a.m., and run throughout the entire day. On Friday the on track action resumes with qualifying sessions in the morning, then track touring at 12:15pm, where fans can drive the track in their own vehicles, followed by more qualifying in the afternoon. Anyone interested in track touring must register in advance at the Road America Administration Office.
Friday evening, the tiny village of Elkhart Lake will spring to life with a blend of art-on-wheels as over 100 race cars will parade from the track to downtown Elkhart Lake for judging and spectator viewing beginning at 6 p.m., for the Concours d’Elegance.
This event is a must see spectacle for enthusiasts of all ages as the quiet town is taken over by vintage racing cars. The sound, while not as visceral as being at the track itself is unique in that you are seeing the pinnacle of vintage racing rumble through public roads. Standing ten feet from a 1,000 horsepower big block Can-Am car, or the beyond mad 80’s Formula 1 turbo cars as they idle and rev by you is a sensation that goes beyond hearing and it is inexplicably cool.
Everyone is invited to take part in the concours viewing but Road America encourages fans and patrons to arrive early (before 5 p.m.) to allow enough time for parking and to find your perfect viewing location along the parade route and Lake Street where the race cars will park.
On Saturday qualifying resumes in the morning for all groups. Then in the afternoon racing gets underway with qualifying races for each group. Over 100 sports cars will then gather again on Saturday evening in downtown Elkhart Lake from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the second night of the Concours d’Elegance. Brimming with rarity, the street fills again. Most of these cars are rare metal, fast metal, and only once in a lifetime that you will see them metal. The access again is unprecedented.
Seeing owners giving little kids seat time in the cars is part of the fun. In short, events like this, having the young ones exposed to the cars, and the sensations surrounding the event is critical to continuing the heritage of vintage racing and events like The WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman presented by HAWK make all of this possible.
On Sunday, the featured racing begins at 9 a.m. Races are held until 12:15 p.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 the Victory Lane area which is centrally located in the paddock.
The rest of the day is filled with exciting feature races for each group. Other fan attractions include autograph sessions, an automotive art and vendor fair, on-track touring, Road America’s Zip Line and public go-karting at the CTECH Manufacturing Motorplex.
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). All races run rain or shine and anyone 16-years-old and under are free with a paying adult at the gate. Parking and paddock access is also free.
About Road America: Established in 1955, Road America is located midway between Milwaukee and Green Bay in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The world’s best racers have competed at this legendary four-mile, 14-turn road circuit for over 60 years. The 640-acre, park-like grounds offer amazing viewing opportunities, fantastic concessions and high-speed excitement to hundreds of thousands of spectators each year. In addition to public race weekends, Road America offers a variety of group event programs, the CTECH Manufacturing Motorplex for karting and supermoto, and the Road America Motorcycle and Advanced Driving Schools. For more information, visit www.roadamerica.com Follow Road America onwww.facebook.com/RoadAmerica and on Twitter: @roadamerica or call 800-365-7223.