The tavern’s aura got even bigger when director Martin Scorsese selected the GingerMan to be a set for a pool hall in his 1986 film The Color of Money starring Tom Cruise and Paul Newman. The movie gave the GingerMan landmark status and spiked business for years to come.
With greater resources came greater options and freedom; Schnitta began to reflect on where his spirit next would soar. When he learned about a dormant 350-acre apple orchard close to downtown South Haven, he recognized an opportunity to pursue his passion for racing. He would also carry forward his symbol of independence.
Schnitta bought the orchard in 1995, and GingerMan Raceway opened in 1996. Today, the point of interest in South Haven features a 2.14-mile track, a pavilion that seats more than 200 and a three-level control tower with a timing wire and a PA system. It is a popular choice for racing beginners, hobbyists, clubs and national organizations alike. Both the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) hold events at the track.
A highly social and interactive experience also was vital to Schnitta. Spectators are not confined to the stands; they can meet and speak with the drivers, including those behind the wheel of elite racecars such as the Ferrari 488 GTB, the McLaren 570S, the Porsche 911 GT3 and the Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4.
Schnitta further envisioned the raceway to be a destination for family and friends and time in the great outdoors. The track is surrounded by shaded woods, plenty of paddock space and a pond full of fish. Racers and guests can enjoy a large fire pit, a lounge and gift shop with an outside seating area, and camping at GingerMan for only $10 a night.
The track also bears the distinction of being one of the country’s safest. Schnitta had the track designed to exclude hazards such as ditches, trees and utility poles. In order to be on the track, drivers must have either attended a driving school or already been on another track at least three times.
Whenever you’re visiting downtown South Haven and you feel an itch for adventure, head just a few miles straight west down Phoenix Street. Whether you’re watching the cars or riding in one, you will find yourself closer to the edge of adventure dreamed by a man with a book in his hand and the will to do something with it.
61414 Phoenix Rd., South Haven, MI 49090
(269) 253-4445 www.gingermanraceway.com
Open April through October (hours may vary, so please call ahead)