Studio 21 takes on Road America

The June Sprints weekend at Road America in Wisconsin would be the third race weekend in a row. Returning to the garage after Indy meant a scheduled gearbox change on Sunday night before catching a flight on Monday morning for a conference in New York City. It turned out to be an all-night session in the garage until 6:30 am to get most of the work done. However, I’m told sleep is over rated.

As could be predicted, my flight out of Newark on Wednesday night was canceled due to weather. The earliest flight to Chicago would be through Fort Lauderdale and arriving mid-afternoon, about the time I was planning to leave for Road America. Imagine the dismay when, after sleeping at the airport, I find out the flight to Fort Lauderdale was delayed. I ultimately arrived in Chicago via St Louis.

In the early 50’s, sports cars raced on the streets in and around Elkhart Lake Wisconsin. After several years, it was determined that racing on the streets of Elkhart Lake was much too dangerous and a permanent road course was conceived. Road America is a four-mile permanent road course located just south of historic Elkhart Lake. The track held its first race in 1955, with the first SCCA June Sprints held the very next year. The June Sprints is currently SCCA’s longest running amateur road racing event.

As I got ready to load the trailer on Thursday afternoon, I discovered the wheel spindles on the front end of the car were both severely bent. Quite a surprise given the front of the car wasn’t damaged from the Indy crash. The only thing I could figure out was the car was dropped when the tow truck hooked it up to remove it from the track. So it became a long night at the track replacing the front-end components. Again, sleep can be overrated.

After a dismal first practice on Friday morning, we got it all together for qualifying, ultimately gaining pole position in Formula Vee.

On the grid with pole position

We still had another qualifying on Saturday morning, but it was now time to relax, enjoy a nice dinner in Elkhart Lake and continue the tradition of having a couple drinks at Siebkens Tavern. The list of famous racecar drivers seen at Siebkens over the years is endless.

The “secret” bar at Siebkens Resort in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin.

Siebkens—The Last Open Bar

The race on Saturday proved to be a typical Formula Vee battle, with the top three of us battling back and forth for the lead. Drafting will take you from 3rd to 1st in the length of a long Road America straight. The Studio21 car ultimately finished 2nd, and a placed on the podium. Trophies were presented by 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal. It was then time to spray the champagne. Lots of fun after all the effort by myself and crew chief Scott Cornish to have the car ready to compete for the lead.

1986 Indy 500 winner, Bobby Rahal, presents the trophies.

The main race on Sunday was to be a repeat of Saturday’s race. Unfortunately for me, the forth place car passed me on the front straight an then spun in turn 3, allowing the front two cars to break away. On the last two laps of the race, the engine bobbled coming out of the long right hand carousel corner on the backside of the track. The second bobble allowed the forth place car to pass just before the “kink” on the final lap. Then there was only one corner left to try and regain 3rd. I had to drive turn 14 perfect and draft to the finish line. I managed to gain third place by the length of a nose, .043 of a second. Another 3rd place June Sprints finish and more champagne.

Champagne celebration on the podium.

Ah yes, the champagne.

So back to the office on Monday morning, plenty of work to be done, but I am energized by the passion of auto racing. With several weeks before the next race, I’ll find time to catch up on my sleep.

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