90 Years and Counting

Jack Webster and Eddie LePine. [Photo by Eddie LePine]

Jack Webster and Eddie LePine. [Photo by Eddie LePine]

By Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

We took a look at the numbers the other day and came to the realization that 2021 marks our combined 90th year in motorsport. We all tend to mark special occasions that feature round numbers, as 90 sounds a lot cooler than, say, 89 or 91. For Jack, his journey through the world of motorsports started at Watkins Glen at the US Grand Prix in 1971. For Eddie, his first event was Indy Cars at the Milwaukee Mile in 1981.

50 for Jack, 40 for Eddie. Wow…90 total. Makes us feel our age just writing that number down.

It has been a swift and eventful nine decades of racing for us. In Eddie LePine’s case it has involved stints as a go-kart racer and NASCAR Legends pilot, as well as driving stints in many other forms of racing. Of course, to go along with all that driving, there are his skills as a photographer, interviewer and writer that have been showcased over the years in various publications, websites, and even a stint on French TV (yeah, he does radio and TV too)! Of course, Fast Eddie (as he is known in paddocks around the world) is still at it and will be joining Jack Webster in covering the upcoming IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar race at Road America.

Jack’s path was slightly different, as he never did any driving of race cars, but he did have a successful stint as an IMSA Team Manager in the 1980’s, managing the Porsche Fabcar Camel Light operation and overseeing victories at Sebring, West Palm Beach, Miami and Sears Point among other successes. Actually, the only time he took a break from his photography was when he worked for Fabcar and since the end of that program he has continued photographing motorsports and writing about it as well for numerous publications and websites. He even took the time to write a book about his racing photography, titled “Racing Pilots”.

All of our experience will come together at historic Road America as we both cover the IMSA weekend August 5-8. It will be quite refreshing to return to Elkhart Lake after missing the 2020 season due to COVID. The IMSA weekend will be Jack’s first Elkhart visit of the season, while for Eddie it will be his second (he covered the IndyCar race meeting).

Funny thing is that both of us have covered the same race at Road America before – the IMSA Camel GT race in 1985. We practically stood next to one another taking photos of Derek Bell’s Lowenbrau Porsche pit stop – but we didn’t know one another at the time (probably too busy pushing each other out of the way so we could get our shots!). Turns out, the same thing happened a couple of years prior at the Detroit Formula One Grand Prix in 1983 where we were both working as photographers. Small world.

Stay tuned as we provide much more than just race reporting from Elkhart Lake. We dig in and get the details, talk to people that most do not, put you “behind the scenes” and in the know of what is really going on. Walking through the paddock with Fast Eddie is an experience – it takes forever because he literally knows EVERYBODY and they are always stopping to chat with him! But, hey, that’s how we get the info, how we get the quotes and the angle on the stories that others may miss.

We have grown up following the many changes and improvements made at Road America through the years – from driving over the old Billy Mitchell Bridge to get into the paddock, to taking photos of race cars as they passed by the timing and scoring lights on the old barn by the entrance (sadly now history), having lunch and ice cream at St. John the Baptist (also sadly now history) to watching the huge grids of CanAm cars and massive Road America crowds in the early 1970’s.

And you know what? Time marches on and while honoring and remembering the past, Road America just keeps getting better and better, making major improvements every year. Improvements like new viewing areas and the cart path to the inside of Canada Corner (unlike the days in the early 1970’s when you had to hike through dense underbrush to get there) – we wouldn’t be surprised if a fan, or more likely an old photographer, stumbled out of those woods after being lost for years. Then there is the outstanding new viewing area heading up the hill on the main straight, the unique Road America merchandise which makes shopping at the Paddock Shop such a great experience, the massive media center across from the pits which is one of the best anywhere, the go kart track for family fun, and last but not least the best restrooms of any racetrack we have ever been to! Road America is a world class facility.

Once racing is done for the day, who hasn’t made the short trip to the village of Elkhart Lake and had a drink or two at Siebkens? We certainly have. Who hasn’t experienced hearing great racing stories from legends like Brian Redman and David Hobbs while dining at Siebkens? We certainly have. Who hasn’t gotten drenched by one of those famous Wisconsin pop up thunderstorms that seem to materialize on a race weekend? (AND watched the occasional tornado pass by in the distance). Again, we certainly have, many times.

Coming back to Road America in 2021 once again after so many years of being there just seems right. It seems like coming home. It seems like coming home because it really is. For drivers, crews and fans, we are home when we are at Elkhart Lake.

We don’t know if we will get another 90 years in, but we can assure you that as long as we are able and they are still racing at America’s National Park of Speed, we will keep coming back. It’s been a hell of a ride so far and we just love coming back for more.

If you have never been to Road America, make plans to do so as soon as possible. Don’t wait – come to the IMSA Weekend! Breathe in the fresh Wisconsin air, experience the smell of gasoline and gear oil in the morning, rub elbows with mechanics as they work on the cars, watch and listen as the best drivers on the planet climb into their machines, strap in, fire them up and take to the track. Wander around this amazing 4.048 mile circuit (America’s Spa? Nürburgring?). Take in the outstanding views from Turn 5, Hurry Downs, The Carousel and Canada Corner. Enjoy the best Brats on earth (and fresh ears of corn), mingle among racing legends, listening to their stories. Take it all in – sear it into your memory. You won’t want to forget a single detail. Not one.

We guarantee that if you visit Road America once, you will return again and again, just like us.

Blatantly borrowed from some baseball movie: “Is this heaven?’

“No, it’s Road America.”

Enough said.

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