Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

County highways J, P, JP, A, and Lake Street

National or State Register of Historic Places
County highways J, P, JP, A, and Lake Street | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:Elkhart Lake Road Race Circuits
Reference Number:06000053
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):County highways J, P, JP, A, and Lake Street
County:Sheboygan
City/Village:
Township:Rhine
SUMMARY
Elkhart Lake Road Race Circuits
County highways J, P, JP, A, and Lake Street
Village of Elkhart Lake and Town of Rhine, Sheboygan County

The Elkhart Lake Road Race Circuits are composed of two routes: the 3.35-mile course used in 1950, and the 6.5-mile course used in 1951 and 1952. Both courses followed public roads that pass through the rolling terrain of Rhine Township and the Village of Elkhart Lake in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. The 1950 route was confined to rural highways north of the village and east of the Sheboygan Marsh, beginning on County Highway P, between CTH JP and CTH J. From the starting line, racers headed northwest on CTH P to CTH J, and turning right onto CTH J. The course followed CTH J east-southeast toward the Village of Elkhart Lake. At the outskirts of the village, the race route made a right turn onto CTH JP, continued to CTH P, turned right onto CTH P and headed north to the start/finish line. The 1951-52 circuit ran over most of the 1950 route, but replaced the segment on CTH JP with a link that passed through the village and around Elkhart Lake.

The Elkhart Lake Road Race Circuits were the major road racing venue in the Midwest during the brief era of sports car road racing on public streets in the United States. The three races held on the course quickly established Elkhart Lake as a road racing area rivaling Watkins Glen, New York. The events run on the circuits brought European-style road racing to Sheboygan County, Wisconsin from 1950-1952. Following the success of the shorter, trial race held in 1950, the 1951 and 1952 meets featured some of the most important names in American automobile racing, attracted large crowds of spectators, and were a major factor in reviving Elkhart Lake┬┐s languishing resort industry. The success of the races demonstrated the viability of road racing as a spectator sport, such that when racing on public roads was discontinued following the 1952 race, local business leaders constructed a purpose-built track simulating country road conditions in 1954-55. This facility, named Road America and located just south of Elkhart Lake, was one of the first specially constructed road courses in the country, and remains one of the premier road racing tracks in the world.

While components of the original courses have changed over time as part of routine road maintenance and a small section is now closed to vehicular traffic, drivers can still experience much of the original route.

PROPERTY FEATURES
Period of Significance:1950-1952
Area of Significance:Entertainment/Recreation
Applicable Criteria:Event
Historic Use:Transportation: Road-Related
Architectural Style:No Style Listed
Resource Type:Structure
Architect:N/A
DESIGNATIONS
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
National Register Listing Date:02/17/2006
State Register Listing Date:09/23/2005
NUMBER OF RESOURCES WITHIN PROPERTY
Number of Contributing Buildings:0
Number of Contributing Sites:0
Number of Contributing Structures:2
Number of Contributing Objects:0
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:0
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:2
Number of Non-Contributing Objects:0
RECORD LOCATION
National Register and State Register of Historic Places, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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