A welcome - and glorious - return for Indy cars at RA

WE CERTAINLY DO LIKE it when the sporting world’s spotlight shines on Sheboygan County.

We’ve been the center of the golfing world several times when either Blackwolf Run or Whistling Straits has hosted championship women’s or men’s golf tournaments – and will be again, as soon as 2020 when Whistling Straits plays host to the world for the prestigious Ryder Cup matches.

And right up the road in Elkhart Lake, the picturesque Road America race course has been hosting world-class events for more than half a century.

This past weekend marked the return of open-wheel racing as the Verizon IndyCar series held sway at Road America for a four-day event.

The first Indy car race took place on the 14-turn, 4.048-mile circuit back in 1982 and it was a popular – and well-attended – fixture at RA for nearly a quarter of a century.

That was before the split in Indy car racing and a falling out with Road America officials brought the series to a halt and left a void for area racing fans and in the Road America calendar.

But there were many who were sorry to see that tradition end and ached to see open-wheel racing return to the one-of-a-kind course through the rolling kettles and woods of Road America.

None more so than one of the legends of Indy car racing – and one of its biggest fans of Road America – Mario Andretti.

Andretti worked behind the scenes with IndyCar and Road America officials to bring the circuit back to Elkhart Lake and succeeded this year, under the sponsorship of the Kohler Co. – another big name in local sporting circles.

To steal a line from the musical “Hello, Dolly” –

“It’s so nice to have you back where you belong!”

Indy car drivers past and present are unanimous in their praise for not just the track at Road America but the entire racing experience there – from the scenic course to the welcoming hospitality of Elkhart Lake and Sheboygan County.

Fans welcomed the cars and drivers back to the course after nearly a decade’s absence and the love affair picked right back up where it left off.

Even if you’re not a racing fan – or a sports fan of any kind – you’ve got be a fan of the economic impact events like the IndyCar races at Road America, championship-caliber golfing at Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits, and other world-class sporting events bring to Sheboygan County.

Thousands of visitors come for the events, enjoy our lodging and hospitality, spend their money here and hopefully fall in love with Sheboygan County and come back again and again.

Add to that the exposure that Sheboygan County and its many attractions and attributes receives through world-wide television and media coverage of these events and we all reap a great bonanza from being in the sporting spotlight.

Congratulations to George Bruggenthies and everyone at Road America, Herb Kohler and the Kohler Co., and everyone at the Verizon IndyCar series for making the Kohler Grand Prix happen – and continued success for many, many years to come.

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