Story and photo by Vickie Miller
The weather was perfect all weekend at Road America and quite a change from 2015 which started with heavy rain on Friday.Â Enough of the weather report, letâ€™s start with why we all go to Road Americaâ€¦the racing!
Road America weekend track activities are fairly constant with four racing series: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge (GT3 Cup), Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Series (Lambo), Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSC) with two classes Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST), and WeatherTech SportsCar ChampionShip (IMSA) with all four classes P/PC/GTLM/GTD.
Last year the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites cars were at Road America for this weekend of racing, but instead the Lites will race August 12 to 14 at the Trois-Rivieres circuit in Quebec.
The track action started with a bang at the first CTSC practice session when, unfortunately, the #56 Porsche Cayman driven by Jeff Mosing and #65 BMW 328i Murillo Racing cars and the #81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i driven by Jerry Kaufman in the ST class were caught up in the mess in the kink.Â Â The #56 was able to make it back on track for qualifying and race, but the #65 and #81 were done for the weekend.
Road America weekend saw the return of fan favorite Guy Cosmo in GS Class driving the #64 Team TGM Porsche Cayman GT4 co-driving with Ted Giovanis.Â I hope you watched Guyâ€™s battle with Jeroen Bleekemolen driving in the Muehlner Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4.Â Totally amazing.
The Cosmo-Bleekemolen racing is one example of the many times I find myself cheering for two teams and two drivers.Â Both Guy and Jeroen have treated me with respect and caring every time I have seen them at the track. Itâ€™s tough to pick a winner so I just sit back, enjoy the race, and let them work it out!
What was the result of the CTSC GS class?Â With Multimatic Motorsports winning in the Ford Shelby, Jeroen with Peter Ludwig took second place, and the team of Guy and Ted finish third.
Here is Guyâ€™s recap on the racing:Â http://sportscar365.com/features/commentary/cosmo-road-america-debrief/
For those following along, yes please note that the ST class HART Racing team in the #93 Honda Civic Si with Chad Gilsinger at the wheel started the race last.Â Chad raced up to the front and Ryan Eversley raced to a P2 podium finish.Â Totally amazing.
For the IMSA big race, #4 Corvette Racing received the 101st victory in a close battle with the Ford Performance GT in the GTLM class.Â Whenever there is a restart with less than 5 minutes to go in a race, donâ€™t leave the television.Â Just a suggestion.Â Unfortunately in my case, I had to listen to the final laps on Radio LeMans due to my flight out of Milwaukee Airport.
My favorite team, Michael Shank Racing, while fastest in Practice 2 and good results in the other practice sessions, John Pew suffered a spin in qualifying placing 8th.Â Â The car was good to go for the race and looked strong working up through the field to finish 4th.
Since I donâ€™t write about a race I donâ€™t finish watching, I will let John Dagys provide the recap. http://sportscar365.com/imsa/iwsc/corvette-sneaks-through-for-gtlm-win-at-road-america/
Along with the 2017 IMSA schedule announcement at Road America, Scot Atherton presented many changes to IMSA for 2018 include the three-class structure and the return of the Truman Award (which was won by John Pew when it was Truman/Aiken).
Grumblings could be heard through-out the paddock regarding the elimination of the PC class. On an up-note, the LMP3 reveal was very positive with many Onroak representatives ready to take your car orders!
I wonâ€™t claim to understand all the changes, so let me refer you to the person who does:Â http://sportscar365.com/imsa/iwsc/pc-teams-ponder-future-in-reduced-three-class-format/
While at Road America, I had the pleasure to chat with a driver I have watched racing for years and always enjoy seeing his smile at the track, Jonathan Bomarito.
Jonathan drives the #55 Mazda Motorsports with his co-driver Tristan Nunez.
I hope you enjoy my normal hard-hitting Q&A session with Jonanthan!
- Favorite food: Mexican
- Favorite music or group: 90â€™s alternative
- What track and what turn gives you the biggest smile? Turn 10 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca closely followed by turn one at Sebring International Raceway
- With the announcement of the 2017 IMSA schedule, which track do you wish would have been on the schedule? Barber Motorsports Park, followed closely by Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Â (I would totally agree.)
- What race and what series is on your bucket list to race? The Total 24 Hours of Spa in the Blancpain series in a GT3 car and also the famous Bathurst 12 hour race.
- If werenâ€™t a race car driver, what career would you pursue? Recently Jonathan has been renovating his house. He enjoys using hard work to take â€œcrapâ€ (his word!) and turning it into a beautiful home.Â He would be in home construction of some type.Â Jonathan derives a great deal of gratification from his home improvement efforts.Â He also gets lots of ideas from HGTV shows.
- If you could spend the afternoon with anyone, who would it be and what would you do? While Jonathan enjoys his life on the track, his family is number one priority.Â The best day is on his boat just cruising on the lake with his family without stress, no place to be, and just enjoying the sun.
- One fact about you which is not on social media or no one might know. Before I tell you the â€œone factâ€, let me start by warning you to grab a Kleenex and be prepared to totally love Jonathan if you donâ€™t already.Â Here goesâ€¦Jonathan and his family moved houses to accommodate a rescue dog.
Jonathanâ€™s big racing talent takes second place to his big dog loving heart.Â Jonathan has more photographs of his doggies on his phone than his kids!Â After rescuing a French bull dog with serious back problems, the Bomarito family moved from a two story home to a ranch so the doggie could be more mobile. I was so touched listening to Jonathan talk about the doggie, I totally forgot to catch the dogâ€™s name.
If you are planning a trip to see an IMSA race, please take a moment to stop by the Mazda Motorsports hauler or autograph session and meet Jonathan and his team.Â I talked with Jonathan before qualifying and was so happy he got pole position, after being top one or two fastest in practice sessions.
After the recent issues at Watkins Glen International and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, the team needed a boost. With 40 minutes remaining, Tristan brought the car in for the last fuel stop.Â As more time ticked off the clock, Mazda Racing reported, â€œChasing the No. 60, Tristan avoided calamity when PC car sliced across nose in Canada Corner.â€Â At the checkered flag at Road America, the car finished P5.
Please get to know Jonathan and his team by following on Facebook, Twitter, and on websites below:
Okay, now time for my recap of the Road America facility and fan experience.Â With the Indy Car race weekend barely in the books, the IMSA guys rolled into the track to find many noticeable improvements around the paddock and the facility.
During the Indy weekend, I saw many tweets regarding the changes, but here is the way I see it.Â The gift shop in the main paddock area was a small â€œbarnâ€ and the new gift shop is much improved.Â With the larger building, also brings more variety of gifts, and nice area to watch the racing on multiple scenes while in an air conditioned building.
The podium/victory lane area is fancy.Â Just in case you are new to my articles, I am not big on change.Â The podium was a wooden looking stage across the track by the media center and near the RV camping on the front straight.Â The stage was nestled in the woods with nice cooling shade against the picturesque tree background.Â I liked it.
Granted to access the podium, it required fans to walk through the tunnel under the track and around the main building but the woodsy stage felt â€œhomeyâ€ and had an old-school racing club feel.Â Flashy is not always better, but I do understand time marches on.
I would assume the larger draw series, like NASCAR and Indy Car, greatly appreciated the new podium and victory lane area. I do applaud Road America building the new victory lane complex in the prime real estate paddock area instead of selling it out to the highest vendor bidder. Â My camera was not able to tune out the techno background on the new stage resulting in poor podium photos.
Hopefully Road America has extra money set aside for my list of ideas for improvement:Â 1) Turn on the air conditioning in the womenâ€™s restroom building; 2) Provide shade for fans having lunch in the St. John the Baptist concession stand area.Â The picnic tables with the umbrella stand holder with no umbrella serves to only taunt the fans wanting shade.Â On Sunday, a few umbrellas were in place, with 30% of the holders remaining empty.
3) Provide Wi-Fi in the media over flow trailer, which is parked in the spot where my beloved podium used to occupy. While I am not deadline media, I felt for the media staff working for IMSA teams and manufacturers shuffled to the new media trailer where they were unable to post photographs or file report due to no Wi-Fi.Â The over-flow room, in the past, was next door to the main media room, but that room was sold out to VIPâ€™s.
All things being considered Road America is one of my favorite tracks.Â If you have not made the trip, I hope you have it on your bucket list.Â The Indy Car weekend with multiple race series in attendance is also worth a visit.
Thank you all for reading and I welcome your comments. I have no affiliation with IMSA, Road America, etc. just a fan. There are many blogs and websites where you will find statistics, results, and scoring from the race; this is â€œjust the way I see itâ€. Got a response? Follow and tweet me @viclovesracing