Racer With A Cause

Posted on Apr 1, 2010 :: Down Time
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

McMahon president Denny Lamers leads a fun day at Road America

AFTER SPENDING THE WEEK BEHIND HIS DESK, Denny Lamers, president of McMahon Engineers/Architects, likes to de-stress by getting behind the wheel of his race car and hitting the track at Road America at about 180 miles per hour.

“It’s exhilarating and just plain fun. I get behind the wheel and the stress just melts away,” says Lamers, owner of Lamers Motor Racing, which has won several national championships, including one in 2009.

Each May, Lamers teams up with other Fox Cities businessmen, including Rollie Stephenson of Faith Technologies, John Bergstrom of Bergstrom Automotive and Bob Weyers of Commercial Horizons, to share their love of racing at the Lamers’ Racing Driving Experience at Road America.

Located in Elkhart Lake in Sheboygan County, cars have been racing on Road America’s legendary 4.048 mile track with 14 turns for the past 55 years. A lifelong racing fan, Lamers only got behind the wheel himself in 2000. “Road America is simply my favorite place on earth,” he says.

Lamers has been with McMahon, an engineering and architecture firm in the Town of Menasha, since 1975. The company celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009.

About five years ago, Lamers decided to rent the track at Road America so his racing team could have its own practice day. “And then since I had the track rented, I decided to invite some friends and word just spread from there,” he says.

Lamers pays for the track rental and teams up with Road America to offer lunch to attendees. Guests are asked to make a donation, which is then collected and given to the Theda Clark Medical Center Foundation for its annual P.A.R.T.Y. at the P.A.C. event, which educates high school students about making good decisions, particularly related to their own driving habits.
Lamers learned about the P.A.R.T.Y at the P.A.C. from Bergstrom, who serves on the hospital foundation’s board. “It seemed to be a great fit. We’re having a lot of fun and it’s a bonus that what we’re doing is benefiting the kids,” he says.

Attendees can either drive one of their own cars – there are plenty of Corvettes, Porsches and other fast cars – or drive one of Lamers’ vehicles. “We’ve seen so many different kinds of cars out there,” he says, before adding that my humble minivan could join the fun.

Cars can travel up to 180 mph on the track, but George Bruggenthies, president and general manager of Road America Race Track, says actual speeds at Lamers Racing Driving Experience vary depending on the vehicle, the drivers’ experience and their safety experience. In other words, Lamers may be able to drive his brand new custom 2010 Ford Mustang at 180 mph, my minivan would only be allowed to top out at maybe 80 or 85 mph.

“It’s a fun day to exercise your car and generate money for charity. It’s one of the more fun events we have here throughout the year,” says Bruggenthies, adding that besides being rented out for racing events, Road America can host other activities such as paintball, geocaching, dog sledding and hiking adventures.

Lamers is excited for the 2010 racing season to get started, especially the June 19 visit to Road America by NASCAR’s Nationwide series.

“I just can’t wait. We’ll have a car in that race. It will be so exciting to have NASCAR back at Road America for the first time in more than 10 years. It’s going to be an awesome racing season,” he says.