ELKHART LAKE, Wis., August 16, 2022 – First-time visitors to a racetrack can walk away with indelible memories.
In some cases, those moments can turn around a life.
Students from Milwaukee-based Great Lakes Adult & Teen Center will get an up-close look at Road America during the Fanatec GT World Challenge, Aug. 19-21.
There are 200 Teen Challenge Centers in the country. The nonprofit organizations, which in some states have expanded to include adults (men and women), offer residential programs for people who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.
Biblical principles and Christ-centered ministry are significant components of the 15-month program. People at the Great Lakes organization live within a five-hour radius of Milwaukee.
Terry Borcheller, chaplain and president at Motorsports Ministries, shared the story of a young man who was part of a previous teen challenge program in the early 2000s.
The teenager was instantly taken by the sights and sounds at the track, according to Borcheller.
“He was completely entranced with everything — the cars, the drivers, the ministry side, and the various personal testimonies shared,” Borcheller said.
“When he graduated from the program, he decided to go to NASCAR mechanics school because of his involvement with the racetrack.”
As a result of the experience and his education, his life was turned around for the better, and he became a crew member for Borcheller’s race team that won the 2014 Grand-Am Championship. “He was the best tire changer in the paddock,” Borcheller said.
The man is now a mechanic for a race team in the IMSA Series.
Borcheller organized outings for a Florida-based Teen Challenge Center to Daytona International Speedway for 11 straight years, with the help of Dale Sankey, from Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Now, Borcheller is thrilled to get the chance to help at Road America, along with Rev. Craig Harper, who’s been executive director at Great Lakes Teen & Adult Center for 30 years.
Don Miske from Allentown, Wisconsin, is also helping coordinate the activities at Road America. About 30 Great Lakes students will participate in several coordinated events at the permanent road course in Elkhart Lake during the weekend.
“Most of these people have never been to a racetrack,” Borcheller said. “That’s why I think it’s so great for Road America.
“They’re giving us tickets to allow these folks to come and experience something they’d otherwise never have the chance to experience. ‘Look, if you get one of these guys engaged to where they’re realizing this is a passion that they never even knew existed, you’ve got somebody who can come and be a corner worker or work at the gate.’ They can become part of the community. They get sucked into it, get addicted differently, and love it.”
Besides Daytona and Road Atlanta, Borcheller took groups to Laguna Seca Raceway & Sonoma Raceway, among others, in years past.
Borcheller shares some of his personal experiences with faith and racing and introduces students to a slew of people from the racing community. Past speakers have included Patrick Dempsey and Hurley Haywood.
Great Lakes students will get to watch Borcheller compete. And maybe several will take away some interesting situations — listening to testimonies from several racing influencers and going to the car’s technical inspection.
“They’ll do some spectating in some of the best spots, do some tours with different teams, get introductions from some drivers and team owners and managers,” Borcheller said.
“They get to be part of something extraordinary that many of them didn’t know existed.”
The students will also watch Borcheller race.
Borcheller will get behind the wheel at Road America, competing in a GT-4 Toyota Supra with car owner Nick Shanny running with Carras Callus Race Team.
Borcheller is no stranger to Road America. He first competed on the track in an endurance kart in 1980. He’s won many races at Road America in various cars and series.
“I love the area around Road America,” Borcheller said. “The atmosphere is special, but the track complements it as well. Road America is always at the top of my list as one of my favorite tracks.”
The Fanatec GT World Challenge at Road America will showcase two 90-min races featuring full-service pit stops, driver changes, and non-stop excitement on Saturday and Sunday.
In addition, the weekend schedule will feature the Pirelli GT4 America, GT America, & TC America powered by Skip Barber for a jam-packed weekend of elite sportscar racing.
Ticket prices vary by day, starting at just $40. Kids 16 and under get free general admission with a paying adult at the gate. Racing runs rain or shine. For additional event details and tickets, check out www.roadamerica.com