Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! – And prepare for three days’ worth of motor madness.
The first stop is Great Lakes Dragaway, about 35 miles south of Milwaukee, right outside of Union Grove, where drivers race down the quarter-mile track every weekend (and many weeknights) all summer long. The roar of the engines, the smell of gasoline and burning rubber and the sight of cars charging past in a blur make this a multi-sensory extravaganza.
“It’s basically an adrenaline issue,” explains Randy Henning, who co-owns the track with Marcel Kuper. “You get an adrenaline rush from going fast, and sometimes you can get one from watching other people go fast.” There’s plenty to see near the starting line, but hardcore fans sit high in the bleachers near the finish, where you can view the length of the track and watch the racers go from their peak speed (somewhere between 100 and 200 mph) down to zero.
On Saturday, August 5, head to Road America near Elkhart Lake, where you’ll see BMWs, Corvettes, Camaros and other street cars participate in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, a 2½-hour endurance race on a four-mile track. If you bring the kids (and you should – those under 16 get in free with a paying adult), settle in at turn five, where you can see the action on the track and on jumbo screens, and the youngsters have a large expanse of grass to play on. Want to feel the noise? Explore the new elevated trail that goes from turn 11 to turn 13. When the cars go past, the vibration is palpable.
Get ready to rack up some serious car envy at the Concours d’Elegance, on Sunday, August 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Veterans Park in Milwaukee. This juried event features 200 vehicles that represent the best of the best, including a prototype of a GT that is currently going into production, owned by Henry Ford III, a 1926 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Trouville and a 1960 Chrysler 300F convertible. Sip a glass of wine, stroll the grassy lawn and admire all that chrome glistening in the August sun. It’s a perfectly civilized way to wind down your fast and furious weekend.