Story and photographs by John Sukowaty
When you think about going to see an INDYCAR race, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Are you thinking about the race? Maybe you were thinking about the location of the track, or if you are able to find a hotel? You might even be thinking about camping on or near the track and making up a list of things you need to be sure to bring. Either way, you are thinking about a long weekend at the race track and when INDYCAR came back to Road America this year, you would have been thinking the same things as thousands of other fans.
Road America Weather is Tricky
As the weekend neared, there was more talk about the KohlerGP in the local media and online. Fans were checking the weather and hoping for the best. If I had to choose 1 thing that was a little bit of a pain in the neck for Road America fans, it would be the weather. IndyCar weekend was shaping up to be mostly dry and I think that really made for a great time. A little bit of rain on Thursday kept the other race activities a little interesting, but things would dry up before the first IndyCar practice session on Friday.
As a track photographer, I am allowed even more access than the spectators get at Road America. This allows me to see everything that is happening and that included how the fans were interacting throughout the weekend. By the time the first IndyCar practice was hot on Friday, the track was filled with fans. There was a major shift in attendance from 9 am to the first session in the afternoon. The track was hot with IndyCars and the fans loved every minute of it.
So Much To See
I spent the better part of a week, prior to going to Road America, on a few online forums. Since I know the track well, I wanted to offer up any advice that I could with hopes that everyone would have a great time when they arrived. Some were race veterans, not new to the track or IndyCar for that matter and had their weekends on a tight schedule. Others wanted to know where to sit and if bathrooms and concessions were close by. And with good reason, Road America spans the better part of 600+ acres providing plenty of exercise between your seat, concessions and the bathroom if you don’t plan accordingly.
All Racing Action Was Great
If you were able to get a weekend ticket with camping or a hotel, you were given access to some of the best racing around. Not only was the big IndyCar race on Sunday, but the Mazda MX-5 Cup, World Challenge Grand Prix of Road America, USF2000 race and IndyLights were all on hand to provide you with plenty of racing to watch. Online forum members said things like, “I thoroughly enjoyed my RA experience” and referenced the cooler weather on Saturday and Sunday, but overall had a great time. The World Challenge races were good, but shortened due to red flags and time issues, so that got fans down a little.
The IndyCar race provided me some time to get around the track on my moped and really get some different photos. Assuming you saw the televised race, or was at the track, you also know that the race was great! The first yellow flag was around lap 29 and that means non-stop action up to that point. I am not going to lie; I was not the only person assuming there would have been a yellow way before that.
Road America Crowds Are The Best
This year, I put together a few videos of my weekend that include my photos and the crowd interaction, which was great, as usual. The fans come from all over the place, pack the stands, concessions and really have a great time! People are always commenting on how clean the track is and that you really have an eye on the action regardless of where you are sitting. The new video screens are really paying off!
The new Victory Lane provided fans with the chance to get up close and personal with the top three finishers of the race. I really think that fans like that addition and honestly, it speaks volumes about how Road America can see where the money is best well spent. It’s all about the experience that makes you want to come back for more.
The weekend was long, filled with sun, rain, wind and many, many photos. If you were able to attend, I hope you enjoyed yourself. If not, I hope you can get there one day and experience things for yourself. In the meantime, I am going to leave you with my gallery and a link to my KohlerGP Weekend video playlist. Enjoy!
John Sukowaty is a contributor to Sports Car Illustrated. To contact John or view more of his work visit his website at www.racedayphotog.com
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