Posted on July 06 2016
Imagine 300 acres of sprawling greenery, shaded woodlands and ample fishing, just six miles from a lakeside beach community in Southwest Michigan. It sounds more like a state park than a race track, but that’s the setting at Gingerman Raceway just outside South Haven, MI. And, the park-like experience is exactly the point.
When racing enthusiast Dan Schnitta, owner of the historic Gingerman Tavern near Wrigley Field, set out to build Gingerman Raceway in 1995, he wasn’t just focused on racing, he was focused on the overall experience on and off the track, and the design of both the course and the surrounding land reflect that. In addition to trees and the fully stocked fishing pond, there’s camping and RV parking. And when it comes to watching the races, spectators are treated to excellent views of the full course from Spectator Hill in the middle of the track.
The other thing Schnitta and track architect Alan Wilson (, ) were focused on was safety. "Recreational racers cannot afford to repair their cars after minor mistakes,” says Wilson, so Gingerman was built with clear runoffs and wide, smooth paving. The efforts paid off, and Gingerman is widely considered one of the safest tracks in the country, and won a Safe Track Award from Victory Lane Magazine.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking “safe” is the same as “easy.” The 11-turn, 2.14 mile extended track has a range of corners and gradients, with about a 40-foot difference between the track’s lowest and highest points. There’s also at least four major overtaking points and a highly technical section between turns 7 and 10 to keep things competitive.
Ginger man is a staple for club-level motorbike races, NASA, and the SCCA, hosting an SCCA North Majors event on July 9th.