Out of the museum and onto the track

A vintage car takes a spin during a practice session at Road America race course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
A vintage car takes a spin during a practice session at Road America race course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

ELKHART LAKE - Road America has hosted motor sports races since 1955. The annual "the Hawk" with Brian Redman race weekend celebrates the heritage of the track and of auto racing.

More than 500 cars in 13 different classes will run in Sunday's feature races, as the history of racing comes alive.

David Hinton came to Road America from his home in Clearwater Florida. He said vintage racing provides drivers with an opportunity most sports can’t. "You can't go play a game of football at Lambeau Field or Dodger Stadium and play baseball whereas; vintage racing you can go to these historic venues and participate with the cars of yester year."

"This really is a rolling museum. Some of these cars are worth multi-million dollars and they're out here racing and some of these guys are racing pretty hard," Hinton went on to say.

Joel Quadracci may have had a much shorter journey from his home in southern Wisconsin but he shared the belief that race cars are mean to race. "I believe cars are made to be driven and I saw a great t-shirt for vintage racing some people look at art we drive it," Quadracci said.

That sentimentality isn't just for the fans that came to check out the cars. Dorsey Schroeder is a former pro racer and the guest of honor this week. Even he couldn't help but reminisce about days gone by at Elkhart Lake.

“I came here for the first time in 1971 to watch Can Am cars and Trans Am cars and they're all here. I just watched the Can Am session a few minutes ago and it made the hair stand up on my neck," Schroeder recalled with a smile.

These cars are vintage and valuable, some are worth multiple-million dollars but it's absolutely real racing.

Rick Knoop said Road America provides a fun test for drivers. "Twists and turns up hills over dales and you really have to stay with the track. If you're thinking about tonight's dinner you'll probably be in trouble."

Like many of the drivers, Knoop believes there’s something special about these older, more powerful race cars. "It was one of the most explosive times, there were bell bottoms, there were no rules, and the cars were absolutely awe inspiring,” Knoop said with fervor.

Dorsey Schroeder provided an even more ringing endorsement for the vintage racing. "I do color commentary for pro racing on TV and that's not fun, this is much more fun"

The racing seems to be a blast but according to the drivers that I talked with the best part of the weekend is the chance to enjoy camaraderie and the cars. Brian Redman, the legendary race car driver who serves as the de facto host each year at the event summed up this ideal.

“It's the camaraderie of vintage and historic racing. Everyone is so friendly and you don't have any of that stuff like pro racing where no one will speak to each other. It's just a great, great get together," Redman said to with a wry smile.