Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Notes From Road America

By Tammy

I'm writing and posting this from Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, home of one of the greatest road courses in North America: Road America. I got myself here for two reasons. One, to attend the American Le Mans Series four-hour race and promote DEAD MAN'S SWITCH to a likely audience of readers—that being race fans. Two, to do research for the next book in the Kate Reilly Racing Mystery series, which will begin at Road America and end at Road Atlanta with the classic endurance race Petit Le Mans.

I also stayed an extra day after the race was over to look in on the Corvette World Tribute at the track on Sunday. This was the first event of its kind and happened in part to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Louis Chevrolet's birth this year. All in all, it was a busy weekend, full of Corvettes! (Here's a closeup of one of the factory racecars.)

My husband and I came up with a new truth this weekend: the business of racing happens on race weekends. Which means I can make lots of plans, but many meetings, contacts, and new ideas or approaches will come up as I meet or run into people at the race, and my plans will always change. Take watching the race, for instance. I thought we might sit in stands somewhere, or catch up with some friends in the Series who get less busy once the race begins. But we ran into the ALMS race director who said, "yeah, sure, come over anytime," and so about an hour into the race, we cautiously opened the door to the nerve center of race officials: Race Control.

And we never left. We were so fascinated with the business of running the race, not to mention astonished at the scores of inputs coming into the race director and his team of stewards and staff, that we stayed there, tucked into a corner watching the bank of monitors showing every turn on the course. This generosity on the race director's part (thanks, Beaux!) is just the latest example of the kindness of people in the motorsports world in giving me access to write about their business and a sport accurately.

I was glad that I could start to give back in a small way, by donating a hardcover edition of DEAD MAN'S SWITCH to an auction to benefit the Austin Hatcher Foundation, which aims to fight pediatric cancer, and which the ALMS supports at every opportunity. A very generous donor won the book with a $75 bid (and even donated beyond that amount—thanks, Anne!) for the book signed by both me and driver Patrick Long, who was calling the auction. I was thrilled to be able to contribute.

So it's been a busy weekend, but a great one. I can't wait to fix up my draft of book two, making the racing scenes at Road America more accurate and compelling and making the in-town social scenes (set at Siebken's Inn and Tavern, naturally) more real. And who knows, maybe I also need to add some intrigue in Race Control to the mix....

I'll leave you with a shot of Elkhart Lake from my bench as I write this. Cheers from the road!


  1. Road America is such a great track.

  2. It really is, and a lovely surrounding area, too. Have you been there often, Simon?