Last updated on July 8th, 2021 at 12:19 pm
More than 100,000 NASCAR racing fans descended upon Road America in Elkhart Lake over the weekend, culminating with the Jockey Made in America 250 Presented by Kwik Trip NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday. The NASCAR Xfinity Series Henry 180 race was also held at Road America, on Saturday.
Reigning Cup Series champion Chase Elliott emerged victorious from a field of 40 cars to win Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race, which was broadcast live on NBC.
Since it opened in 1955, Road America has hosted elite racing competition and some of the biggest names in auto racing, but mostly in the open-wheel Indy Car competition. The last time the top stock car racing circuit competed at the 4-mile-long, 14-turn track was 1956 when it was known as the Grand National Series.
Estimated attendance for the weekend’s events is based on the 640-acre property’s 1,600 campsites that sold out for the weekend, advanced ticket sales and hospitality packages, so it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact number, but Road America is touting the Jockey Made in America 250 as the largest motor sports event ever to occur in Wisconsin.
“It’s good for Sheboygan County, it’s good for Wisconsin, it’s good for Road America and it’s good for all of our partners,” said John Ewert, communications director at Road America.
The venue did not reach full capacity, but its parking areas sold out. Overflow parking was located at the Sheboygan County Fair Grounds in Plymouth, and fans were shuttled to the race track.
Ewert said NASCAR was pleased with Road America’s execution of a safe event, which bodes well for drawing large-scale events in the future. As part of a multi-year contract with NASCAR, the Cup Series will return to Road America in 2022.
What’s more, from a security and law enforcement perspective, the event was a good practice run for the Ryder Cup, which is set to take place Sept. 21 to 26 at Whistling Straits. Road America is the official campground for the the biennial men’s golf competition.
The Cup Series event drew visitors from across the U.S., driving from as a far as Kansas, Texas and Arizona.
“They had heard about Road America from other events such as IndyCar and motorcycle racing, but people wanted to be a part of the first (Cup Series race at the track in 65 years),” said Ewert. “We’re encouraged by that because everybody had such a positive experience that they were talking about wanting to come back. That’s neat when you see people coming from so far driving literally overnight to be apart of this.”
Road America has been an annual stop on NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, its second highest level of competition, for the past 11 years. The 12th annual Henry 180 took place Saturday, with Kyle Busch taking home the win.
Last month, the venue hosted the annual NTT Indy Car Series, presented by REV Group. Under a recently announced multi-year extension, that event will return in 2022 for its 33rd appearance at the road course.
Road America attracts 800,000 visitors annually with hundreds of events each year, generating more than $100 million dollars in economic impact to the area. It employs 22 full-time staff members and an upwards of 500 seasonal employees, said Ewert.