I realize I kind of haven’t shut up about Road America for the last week or so. I would promise this will be my last post about it until next year ... but that would be a bold-faced lie, and I respect you too much for that Oppo.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Road America is a 4-mile long natural terrain road course in the heart of
the land of cheese and slow drivers Wisconsin. The track is considered by many, including people like Mario Andretti, to be one of the best race tracks in the world. For the spectators it offers tons of great places to watch the action from many different perspectives, great facilities, and spectacular surroundings. I went a couple of times with a family friend as a teenager, but didn’t go back until the 2014 IMSA race. I had forgotten how beautiful the place was.
The grounds are also huge, and they allow you to go almost anywhere you want if you have a scooter (or a motorcycle, but most people use scooters). The only exception being for big events you can’t bring your scooter into the paddock. That you have to do on foot, unless you purchase a paddock pass for the scooter itself.
It was watching people tool around effortlessly all over the grounds when I went to that IMSA race and then for IndyCar’s triumphant return last year, that made me really want to buy a scooter. As many of you know, I did that last year.
It’s amazing how many scooters you see there, and how many different kinds you see there. My favorite group was this “gang” of old Yamahas. There were eight of them tooling around together. In this picture two of them are riding away in the background, and another two are behind me.
Here was my setup for the weekend. It’s a 2012 Kymco Super 8-150 I picked up for a grand last August, with a Die Hard Batteries cooler strapped to the back that I picked up for a fiver at a thrift store. It’s been a great scooter, and has plenty of power to move my fat butt around. I did discover its shortcomings for Road America duty though. It’s pretty dang heavy, and therefore kind of difficult to load ... definitely a two-man job. It’s also a bit too low-slung. A lot of the riding is across fields and down trails, and I bottomed out the foot board area a few times. I may sell it and get something else, something with a bit more ground clearance and a bit less weight. If I can find something at a good price, otherwise I’ll keep it. I actually had two different people ask about the scooter, what it was, how good was it, etc.
For a while, for most of Saturday actually, I had to ditch the cooler so my buddy Steve could ride around with me. I’m 6' tall and way a bit north of 350 pounds. Steve is skinny, but is 6'7" tall. Together on the scooter we looked REDONKULOUS! I didn’t care, and I was impressed by the scooter’s ability to still pull us up the steep hills there. Many-much horsepowers from the 150cc 4-stroke!
Steve has been going to Road America for just about every year of his life, and he had kind of poo-pooed the idea of bringing a scooter when I first bought it. You can drive your car around and walk and get around that way, and that’s what he’d always done. Then his parents, who also go to Road America every year, rented a golf cart to get around at the IMSA race last year(a great, but expensive way to do a weekend up there). Boy, that sure was nice to have, Steve told me afterwards. I gave Steve a ride to the bathroom on Friday morning, but he chose to hang off the back of his parent’s rental cart after that, because us together on the scooter was *redacted for decency*.
Saturday morning I managed to sneak my scooter into the paddock, because the track worker guarding it had his canopy blow over just as I approached. Once in there, I spotted this blue Zuma across from one of the Perrelli World Championship team’s haulers. The sign said $800 obo, so I snapped a pic to show Steve, and then went and completed my business in the paddock (I came up snake eyes on finding something in my size with long sleeves, it was chilly Saturday and Sunday, and I’m an idiot for not bringing anything with long sleeves).
To my surprise, when I showed Steve the picture of the scooter, he was intrigued. We jumped on my scooter and rode over to take a look. The Zuma had no title, and had some drop damage from coming loose in the trailer once, but it also only had 863 miles and kick started with one effortless kick. We talked numbers, Steve elected to think about it.
For the rest of the day, Steve rode around with me a lot. I guess he was trying to get a feel for what it would be like to be able to go anywhere at anytime. Saturday night he decided if it was still there on Sunday morning, he’d make an offer.
Sunday morning we got to the track over an hour before the gates opened, so we could claim the spot we wanted to set up home base. We were still a dozen cars back in line, and we ended up behind this Suburban with a really slick and sturdy scooter carrier. We got out to check it out, and the owner of it got out to chat with us. He built it, and told us all about how he did it. Steve can weld, so I think he’s going to build a two-bike version of it for us.
So yeah, Steve bought the scooter. I won’t say for how much, but it darn sure wasn’t $800. When you’re 6'7" and you buy a 50cc scooter, you have to sit on the back of the seat to actually ride it.
We spent most of Sunday riding around to different spots, to see the different sights and hear the different sounds. Hearing those PWC cars, especially the Mercedes and the Bentleys, pound their way out of Thunder Valley is truly amazing.
After the Indy Car race, there was one more PWC race. We had two options, pack up during the post Indy Car downtime, or go exploring. We went exploring. We found a tiny dirt trail on the outside of the carousel and pressed in as far as we dared, egged on by a group of friendly, but also a bit drunk, mountain bikers. This picture is actually after we turned around to point them back out. I forgot to take a picture of the part that made us go, “NOOOOOPE!” We hiked in just a bit further, and were rewarded with an amazing view. That was a place that Steve had never been, on a trail he didn’t know existed. All because of the freedom unlocked by these silly little scooters.
We didn’t stay at the carousel long, electing to tool around and try other viewpoints. On top of this hill you can see from turn six, all the way to the entrance of turn 10 (the carousel). I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this freak show of a sport bike. I didn’t see a ton of motorcycles there, and most of the ones I did see were dirt/enduro bikes. I did see a bunch of vintage dirt bikes, they made for good eye candy.
After the last PWC race, we tooled around the paddock (they weren’t gaurding it anymore), and then trolled the grounds looking for fun. We found a field on the outside of the track between turns 2 and 3 that had a half-bowl shaped hill, and spent a bunch of time racing around like idiot 15-year olds. In short, we had a ludicrous amount of fun on these silly scooters.
Steve’s scooter was running on fumes and it was getting late, so we decided to pack it up. We had hauled my scooter to the track on this Harbor Freight carrier, and fortunately the Zuma was small and light enough to just lift into the bed. I ultimately put over 45 miles on my scooter that weekend, and Steve managed to put 14 on his that Sunday.
I cannot recommend enough that you go watch a race at Road America if you can. Put it on your bucket list, it’s worth it. If you’ve got a scooter or a motorcycle, bring it. It will be worth the trouble.