Unofficially billed as “America’s National Park of Speed,” the 4.048-mile Road America circuit was built in 1955, when the track was carved out of 525 acres of beautiful Wisconsin farmland. Located a stone’s throw from Elkhart Lake, Wis., the circuit was constructed when road racing on the surrounding public roads — ongoing since 1950 — was banned. Since then, Road America has become hallowed ground, its original 14-turn configuration never altered.
June 8-10, 2012, welcomed the 3rd Annual Road America Vintage Motorcycle Classic, and good weather this year made this the best yet, as the first two events witnessed occasional rain and wind, putting a mild damper on things. But not this year. With temperatures in the 80s and plenty of sun, spectators were able to really enjoy all the event had to offer.
The American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA) put on a great race weekend as usual, with vintage and modern racing Saturday and Sunday. A highlight for spectators and racers alike, and the beginning of the racing schedule both days, was the Battle of the CB160 LeMans Start, with 15 racers lining up across the track on their small-bore Hondas, waiting for the signal to race across the track and bump start their bikes before roaring off. The home advantage paid off for Evie Hunt of Kenosha, Wis., who finished first in the CB160 races on both Saturday and Sunday.
With 10 races held every day, there was great vintage racing action for fans of every flavor of vintage bike, from pre-1940 hand-shift singles and twins to vintage superbikes and 2-strokes, Battle of the Twins, the Thruxton Transatlantic Challenge (which features modern Triumph Thruxtons) and even modern motard racing.
Under the big tent
Motorcycle Classics was there again, as we have been from the start, hosting our 3rd Annual Ride & Show. This year we moved from the large parking lot just inside the entrance to a new spot closer to the action in the swap meet. We had a great turnout, with more than 50 bikes entered in our show. The upper Midwest is home to a vibrant vintage bike scene, and this show always brings out a wide and interesting variety of machines. We had everything from land-speed race bikes to a vintage trials Triumph, a Kawasaki Z1 that had been modified into a trike, café racers, a Honda CB750-powered chopper, plus a lovely mix of original and restored British, Italian, German, Japanese and American bikes. Fabulous.
Our guest judge this year was vintage bike enthusiast and friend of the magazine John van Dam of Van Dam Trucking. Based in Fargo, N.D., when he’s not delivering bikes to the stars, John collects and restores bikes in his free time. A fan of Laverdas, he owns the Laverda RGS1000 that belonged to former Cycle World editor David Edwards’ brother. Needless to say, John’s a kindred soul, and he lent his considerable knowledge to help us pick out our winners in five different classes (see great Road America photos in our Image Gallery).
The lovely weather also made the “Ride” part of our Ride & Show something special on Saturday afternoon. More than 20 riders and their classic bikes headed out on a nice, leisurely cruise around 40 or so miles of the best roads the famed Kettle Moraine has to offer, led again by ride planner extraordinaire Dennis Weinhold, who has put together our ride every year. Dennis was also kind enough to hook editor Backus up with a rough-but-original Honda 305 Dream to take on the ride. As nice to ride as it was to look at, it was the perfect bike for the relaxed mid-day loop.
Can-Am was on hand with a tractor-trailer full of its Spyder three-wheelers, offering demo rides to attendees. Though we didn’t have time to check them out, it’s definitely on our “to-do” list if they make it back next year. The Road America Vintage Motorcycle Classic happens again June 6-9, 2013, so make plans now to attend what’s rapidly becoming one of the hottest events on the vintage calendar. MC