Fast Eddie’s Wisconsin Adventure

Driving the Miller at Milwaukee. [Eddie Le Pine photo]

Driving the Miller at Milwaukee. [Eddie Le Pine photo]

By Eddie LePine

I was excited about heading to Wisconsin this past weekend for a couple of major events. I was going to go the Miller Meet at the Milwaukee Mile and then on to Road America for the Indy Car race.

My flight from Florida arrived at 9am on Thursday in Milwaukee and I headed right to Road America to check out some of the improvements that George Bruggenthies had made to his already excellent facility in Elkhart Lake.

I was not disappointed. In the paddock, up the hill and on the right is the new track store, which is huge and probably the best souvenir store anywhere in the country. In addition, further up the paddock near pit out, is the new victory lane. Completed just in time for the Indy Car’s return to Road America, the new structure is outstanding and a fine addition to the track. It pays homage to the history of Road America, built in the style of the old pagoda from the early days of the track.

I spent the day looking up old friends and enjoying the outstanding food that is always on hand at Road America. Without doubt, Road America has the best track food in the country.

I was amazed at how many people were on hand already for the weekend’s races. This was only Thursday and the track and paddock were already swarming with people. Midwest race fans have been clamoring for the return of Indy Cars to Elkhart since they left in 2007, and they showed up in droves to show their appreciation at their return. Hopefully, they are now here to stay. They should have never left.

I ran into Johnny O’Connell, fresh off of his run at Le Mans for Corvette, and he was back in his regular Cadillac ride for two Pirelli World Challenge races this weekend. Johnny was very excited to return to Elkhart, one of his favorite tracks.

I also spoke with Sebastien Bourdais, who won for Ford in the GTE Pro class at Le Mans last week, and he was still stoked about the historic win for Ford. He also loves Road America, and was looking forward to possibly adding another win to his ever growing resume of victories (he won the last Indy Car race here in 2007).

At the end of the day, I headed back to Milwaukee to meet my dad and Steve Zautke for dinner and prepare for Friday’s Miller Meet.

The Miller Meet on Friday was spectacular, and I want to thank Carl Schulz for giving me the opportunity to drive his 1927 Miller 91 Boyle Valve Special around the track. Let me tell you, that car is a handful, with its skinny tires and hand brake. You had to be careful going into the corners, that’s for sure! The drive went great, and it was fantastic to be part of this historic gathering of Miller cars and actually drive one of them on the oldest race track in the country.

From Milwaukee, it was back to Elkhart Lake with Steve where we taped our radio show for 105.7FM, The Fan. Of course, the major topic was the Indy Cars returning to Road America, and by Friday afternoon, the place was really filling up.

After enjoying the track activity on Friday afternoon, it was off to Elkhart Lake with Steve to the party at David Hobb’s house. David threw a party for his racing friends, and believe me, David has a lot of racing friends! It was great visiting with David. The man has some incredible stories, and I love to hear him tell them.

Of course, a visit to Elkhart Lake wouldn’t be complete without stopping in at the bar at Siebkens. It is the best racer’s bar in the country and has been immortalized in Roger Warrick’s famous poster “The Last Open Bar”. Now, Steve kept me up much later than my normal bedtime, and we finally left Elkhart around 2am.

Then it was up and at the track by 7:30am Saturday for another full day of racing action, before heading back to Florida on Sunday. As my grandfather once said: “You can sleep when you are dead.”

In summary, it was a great trip to my old stomping grounds of Wisconsin. Driving a Miller at the Milwaukee Mile, doing the radio show, hanging out with David Hobbs, visiting old racing friends, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Time to get a little rest before the next road trip.

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