ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — For Road America, all it can do is wait.
There is growing mutual interest for Road America and NASCAR to bring the Sprint Cup Series to the famed four-mile, 14-turn race course nestled in the hills of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, which opened in 1955. Unfortunately, in order for the series to return to Road America for the first time since 1956, a race won by Tim Flock, something else will have to be dropped from the schedule.
There is just no flexibility with the Cup schedule, with 38 race weekends packed into about 10 months.
“I know we’re on the list,” said George Bruggenthies, president and general manager at Road America, on Thursday at the Harley-Davidson Museum to promote Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race, the Gardner Denver 200 Fired Up by Johnsonville.
“Their schedule is so tight,” he added. “Something will have to go away.”
One thing is for certain: NASCAR is interested in bringing the Sprint Cup Series to Road America.
NASCAR visits the track annually to check on the facility. Among the things series officials evaluate are ample fan space, motor home space and track configuration, such as run-off areas. In addition, Bruggenthies speaks with NASCAR representatives regularly.
“What’s also really motivating them is understanding and watching the ratings on the road course broadcast events are much higher,” Bruggenthies said. “They’ve had some difficulty, but I think I can help move their sport.”
NASCAR has always been a hit with racing fans of the upper Midwest. From 1993-2009, NASCAR’s Nationwide and Camping World Trucks series’ raced at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, just outside of Milwaukee and about an hour south of Road America. It often brought large crowds.
Management conflicts at The Mile forced NASCAR to drop the track, the nation’s oldest race track, off the schedule. It’s a move that still irks many race fans of the region. However, NASCAR knew the series had to stay in the upper Midwest.