WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Road America, described as one of the world’s most challenging road-racing courses, will be in the spotlight at the International Motor Racing Research Center’s final installment of its popular 2012 Center Conversations series “America’s Great Tracks” on Oct. 13.
Tom Schultz, track historian at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin’s Road America since 2000, will speak at 1 p.m. at the Center, located at 601 S. Decatur St., Watkins Glen, N.Y. The talk is free and open to all.
“Tom Schultz is uniquely qualified to tell the story of Road America and the three-year history of racing on public roads through and near the village of Elkhart Lake that preceded the construction of the permanent circuit,” said J.C. Argetsinger, president of the Racing Research Center. “Road America and Watkins Glen have a long history of friendship and cooperation as the two most distinguished and successful American road racing venues.”
Road America was the vision of civil engineer Clif Tufte, who spent almost a year planning the 4.048-mile circuit, which opened on the weekend of Sept. 10-11, 1955.
Phil Hill won the inaugural 148-mile feature SCCA National race in a Ferrari Monza, finishing side-by-side with the D-type Jaguar of Sherwood Johnston.
Tufte built the track on 525 acres of farmland. Millions of dollars in improvements have been made over the years, but the original 14-turn configuration has never been altered, according to the track’s website at www.roadamerica.com.
Schultz celebrated the track’s 50th anniversary in 2005 with the book “Road America: Celebrating 50 Years of Road Racing.” His first book was “Road America, Five Decades of Racing at Elkhart Lake,” published in 1999.
Over the years he has been a photographic contributor to more than 10 racing books published worldwide.
Schultz retired in 2008 as senior vice president of Tri City National Bank in Milwaukee, Wis., after a career in banking.
He attended his first car race in May 1956 and has been an active fan ever since. He was press officer for the SCCA’s Olds Pro Series in 1993 and press officer for the club’s North American Pro Series in 1994. He was assistant press officer for the SCCA Trans-Am Series from 1995-2000.
Schultz has been a contributing editor of Sports Car magazine since 1980, and since 2006 has served as master of ceremonies for the Milwaukee Masterpiece Concours d’Elegance.
The “America’s Great Tracks” series carries on the mission of the International Motor Racing Research Center to preserve the history of motorsports in all series, at all tracks. Previous speakers in the series were J.J. O’Malley, Daytona International Speedway; William Edgar, Riverside International Raceway; and Donald Davidson, Indianapolis Motor Speedway.