Nestled among 750 acres of picturesque rolling hills, Road Atlanta is one of motorsports enthusiasts’ favorite tracks in the Deep South. Known officially as Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course is located just outside of Braselton, Georgia, about 35 miles northeast of the Atlanta metro and close to the Chateau Elan resort.
Road Atlanta regularly hosts professional and amateur sports car and motorcycle races, karting events, racing and driving schools, corporate programs and testing for motorsports teams. Facilities include a skidpad, garages, indoor and outdoor spectator seating, RV camping and the Michelin Tower, a five-story facility with a rooftop terrace overlooking the finish line. Notable events include the Motul Petit Le Mans, Drift Atlanta, MotoAmerica and the HSR Mitty.
History of Road Atlanta
Road Atlanta’s story begins with a unique twist of fate. In 1969, David Sloyer, Earl Walker and Arthur Montgomery completed the purchase of a plot of farmland with the idea of building a racing circuit. Almost immediately, the group received word that a flood had destroyed another track slated to host a key Can-Am series race. Road Atlanta was given the opportunity to serve as its replacement, if they could finish the track in time. The team got to work and the entire 12-turn, 2.54-mile course was excavated, graded and paved in just six months.
Held on September 13, 1970, the Can-Am race was well attended and marked the beginning of a successful decade of Road Atlanta racing. More races were hosted for Can-Am, plus events for Formula 5000, IMSA Camel GT and Trans Am. During this time, Jody Scheckter, Dan Gurney, Peter Gregg, Mario Andretti, Keke Rosberg, Bobby Rahal, Paul Newman and Mark Donohue raced there. The track was sold in 1978 and went through several changes in ownership.
Eventually, Road Atlanta began to face financial difficulties and its owners filed for bankruptcy in 1993. Executives including Frank Drendel, Jim Kanely, Eddie Edwards and Bill Waddell formed a group to purchase the track and turn things around. Over the next few years, Road Atlanta rebounded with improvements including building renovations, a track widening and resurfacing update and new landscaping.
In 1996, renewal kicked into high gear when Don Panoz purchased the track. As the developer of the nicotine patch and founder of the neighboring Chateau Elan Winery and Resort, Panoz had the skill and means to restore Road Atlanta to its former glory. Bob Barnard was brought in to add a new left-right chicane at the end of the back straight, eliminating the track’s notorious dip. The track was also reconfigured to allow for a club and school course and a tunnel to a new infield paddock and additional pit was added.
The next phase of Road Atlanta began when NASCAR Holdings purchased the facility in 2012. With new resources and support, the track benefited from capital projects, upgrades and new events. In 2019, a first-ever entitlement partnership was struck. The track became known as Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and construction began on a new five-story race facility dubbed Michelin Tower. The new facilities received their grand opening at the 22nd Petit Le Mans in 2019.
Fun Facts About Road Atlanta
- Road Atlanta prides itself on its family-friendly environment and has a free admission policy for children 12 and under.
- Events at Road Atlanta attract more than 400,000 annual visitors from 35 states and 20 countries.
- The original track was notorious for a feature known as “The Dip” — a high-speed down-and-up that was followed by hard braking up a hill, under a bridge and through the blind apex of Turn 11.
- Road Atlanta hosts many Sports Car Club of America events and was home to the SCCA National Championship Runoffs event for 23 years.
- Originally a pharmaceutical entrepreneur and local businessman in other endeavors, track owner Don Panoz first became interested in motorsports after his son Danny began producing the Panoz Roadster.
- The Motul Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta’s signature annual event, is a 10-hour, 1,000-mile race that was started in 1998 after a partnership was formed with IMSA.
- The track’s new Michelin Tower features a rooftop deck, 300-person hospitality space, media center, suites, offices, kitchens and race control facilities, and overlooks the finish line.
Events at Road Atlanta are always exciting. Find a complete schedule of upcoming events at Road Atlanta. And as always, make sure you and your car are protected during track day events with insurance from Lockton Motorsports. Find the policy that fits your needs and explore more track resources.