48 OCTOBER 2020 scca.comTECHNICAL
With the 2020 National Championship Runoffs taking place thisOctober at one of the most challenging circuits in America, threeSCCA champions reveal their track secrets | WORDS Steve Nickless
Road America is unequivocally breathtakingly. Boasting a 4.048-mile, 14-cornerracetrack meandering uphill anddown through some 640 acres offarmland nestled into southeasternWisconsin’s magnificent stateforest that’s also within shoutingdistance of the quaint vacationcommunity of Elkhart Lake (pop.
1,018), SCCA members wereenergized when it was announcedthat the National ChampionshipRunoffs would take to this historiccircuit once more. And now, withOct. 3-11 soon upon us – andfollowing a seven-year Runoffsabsence from this particulartrack – the Runoffs’ return to theKettle Moraine is nearly upon us.
Carved out of the middle ofproperty once owned by theElkhart Lake Sand and GravelCo., its development was pushedfor in the early 1950s by thatcompany’s president, the lateClif Tufte, a WWI veteran, civilengineer, and sports car racingenthusiast who foresaw the endof the popular Elkhart Lake RoadRaces in the wake of a 1952tragedy in Watkins Glen, N. Y.
Tufte’s company was strugglingin the early 1950s, but it ownedmore than 500 acres of farmlandand forest bordering an abandonedgravel pit, and the trained civilengineer developed a plan. Thecourse was laid out and landwas already being cleared evenbefore the necessary $75,000upfront money was fully raised.
Of course, Tufte’s initial stake hasbeen repaid many times over.
Road America held its firstrace in 1955 on a course largelyunchanged to this day and willcelebrate its 65th anniversaryin September before beingdescended on by hundreds ofthe SCCA’s finest club racers.
But Road America isn’t asimplistic circuit. Many of its uniquefeatures are keenly disguised ona track map, all except its length,and even the best simulators canfail to capture its true challenges.
To help you find your way,
SportsCar called on a trio ofroad racing veterans to take uson a lap, sharing their thoughtson lines and braking and whatit takes not only to lap quicklybut to win at Road America:Peter Cunningham, MikeMiserendino, and Matt Reynolds.
Cunningham, from Milwaukee,
won the June Sprints in 1984 and
went on to a storied professional
racing career, his Real Time
Racing notching its 100th World
Challenge victory here at Road
America last summer. Inducted
into the SCCA Hall of Fame in
2018, Cunningham is the voice
of more than 35 years of racing
and winning at this very track.
Californian Mike Miserendino is
one of the most successful Spec
Racer Ford drivers of all time with
five National Championships.
His Road America insights
were gleaned over more than a
decade of winning here, including
his 2009 Runoffs victory and
regular June Sprints success.
Texan Matt Reynolds notes
that Road America is different
in just about all ways from
what he calls his home track,
Hallett – but the perennial Runoffs
and U.S. Majors Tour winner in
E Production (and front runner
in Spec Miata) has hundreds of
laps at Road America and has
a clear idea of what it takes to
get to the front of the field.
So, let’s dive in...