(photo courtesy Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
“The World Center of Racing”, that high banked racing facility known as the Daytona International Speedway, is getting a much needed facelift. Starting Sunday morning the race cars have been replaced by bulldozers, road graders, cranes, and other heavy-duty work equipment. The race track is is being dug up and resurfaced for the first time in 32 years!
The construction crews have began the process by removing the light poles, the SAFER barrier system, and the safety fences/crash wall. The 57 light poles, the safety fence , as well as 8,300 linear feet of the SAFER barrier are being completely dismantled.
“It’s an historic moment for this facility, and we’re excited to see the work on this project begin,” said Robin Braig, president of the Daytona Beach, Fla., track that is the epicenter of NASCAR’s empire.
DIS’ entire layout , featuring its signature turns banked at 31 degrees, will be repaved as well as the skid pads, apron and pit road. Concrete will be used for the pit stalls. All of the existing asphalt will be removed down to the original 52-year-old lime rock base, which will be leveled before repaving begins.
An estimated 50,000 tons of asphalt will be used on a project that will pave 1,435,000 square feet, or about 33 acres. The facility occupies 480 acres, including an infield portion of 180 acres.
The repaving of DIS will remain true to NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.’s original vision, layout and geometry of a project that broke ground on Nov. 25, 1957 on land adjacent to the city’s airport. At the time, Big Bill’s plans were regarded as blueprints for a marvel of engineering and construction. On cue, DIS played host to a field of 59 cars for the inaugural Daytona 500 on Feb. 22, 1959.
Amazingly, the racing surface has not been repaved since August 1978, a project that took several months and was finished in time for the 1979 Daytona 500.
The track is 40-feet wide, with an apron ranging from 12- to 30-feet. The track’s frontstretch measures 3,800 feet, including a 1,900-foot “chute” section from Turn 4 to the middle of the trioval, which is banked at 18 degrees. DIS’ “Superstretch” backstretch measures 3,000 feet.
Pit road measures 1,600 feet and has room for 43 stalls, each measuring 50 feet.
DIS’ 3.56-mile road course incorporates the trioval and a non-banked infield section.
A $20 million repaving originally was scheduled for 2012 but moved up following a problem with a pothole that forced two lengthy red flag stoppages during the Sprint Cup Series’ season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 14.
The parent International Speedway Corp. has contracted Lane Construction to repave DIS. The company has repaved several other ISC racetracks, including Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Target date for completion is Jan. 1, 2011. Speedweeks 2011 will kick off with the 49th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race on Jan. 29-30 and conclude with the 53rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20.
See you at Daytona in February!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM WORKING ON MY REDNECK!