ELKHART LAKE — Sunday's July 4th NASCAR Cup Jockey Made in America 250 at Road America was perfectly made for all kinds of fans—diehard NASCAR fans, Road America fans and fans of just about anything that goes fast.
Tom "Tommy" Bartelt, Road America's oldest track shuttle driver and tour guide, said this was hands down the busiest he's seen the track in his career.
"There's got to be easily 100,000 here," he said. "We typically draw about a million people a year with all of our races at the track, and we generate somewhere between $75 to $100 million a year for this economy."
Although he doesn't really get to spend many race days getting to watch anymore, he is all about trying to make it a memorable experience for the fans ... while also sneaking in some peeks.
"I've been here a while so I know where all the spots to go are. I'll usually slow down the shuttle in those areas so people can really appreciate it," he said. "For me, it also just never gets old.
"This is 640 acres with changes in elevation and 90 degree turns—this isn't that circular track that NASCAR is used to. Let's see you guys come on up and race on a real track," he laughed.
Nick Miller, of Franklin, Wisconsin, is one that has seen some of the greatest tracks in NASCAR history, but said nothing compares to seeing it in his backyard.
"I've been coming to Road America since the XFINITY series started coming here so probably about 10 years," he said. "I've been to Daytona, Kentucky, Chicago—this is a totally different atmosphere. I've only been to oval tracks, but the cool thing about this is that it's in our backyard. You can move around the track, it's a little bit more versatile and you can get closer to the action, which is pretty cool."
Miller was joined by Road America first-timer Joe Kiser, also from the Kenosha area. The two were rooting for No. 2 Brad Keselowski driving the Snap-on car, sponsored by the business headquartered right in Kenosha.
"We have all these names that bring Wisconsin businesses to the forefront, which is pretty cool," Miller said.
And yes, Kiser said he will "definitely" be back.
"It's a nice big track, so it's nice to be able to go to different locations instead of just being in one spot. You get some action speed in one spot, you get some really good moves on the corners and curves, plus you can get really close to the actual freeway," he said. "You can get a lot closer than you can on a lot of the oval tracks, and you don't have to sit still in one spot."
Joe from the Kiel area, who didn't want to share his last name but was more than happy to share his Road America expertise, is a season pass holder for the track. This was his first NASCAR Cup race, however, so he wasn't there to cheer anyone specific on, but rather just to take in the unique experience for the track.