(WOMR file photo)
The iconic Sprint Cup Tower that has hovered above Daytona International Speedway for almost three decades has begun its white-flag lap.
A 490-foot crane — nicknamed “Big Red” — started picking off pieces of the signature structure Wednesday as the Speedway’s Daytona Rising project continued to pick up the pace after a brief layoff.
For 27 years, the tower housed corporate gatherings, the media and NASCAR officials on race weekends.
It provided a bird’s-eye view for some of the track’s greatest moments, including Dale Earnhardt’s lone Daytona 500 victory in 1998.
The crane’s first pull was a utility shed on top of the roof. It later came back and grabbed a large support beam.
The crane will lift at least 2.24 million pounds of steel — the equivalent of 684 Toyota Camry race cars — and make at least 130 pulls as part of a 30-day demolition project, superintendent Ken Stiles said.
Once complete, the tower — built in 1988 as the Winston Tower — and the middle section of the frontstretch grandstands will be completely removed.
By January 2016, DIS is expected to have racing’s first motorsports stadium — with 101,000 modern seats — all located on the frontstretch, and a new tower.
On Monday, an Indiana-based company began pulling some of the 46,000 seats from the backstretch grandstands. That project is expected to run through late October, and 60 percent of the backstretch’s structure is expected to be down before July’s NASCAR races. The removal of those 46,000 seats on the back stretch will result in a seating capacity shrinking down to a total of 101,000 seats.
When this project is complete, which will be in time for the 2016 Daytona 500, the Daytona Rising project will turn a 57 year old iconic, and admittedly crusty and outdated, racing facility into a world class futuristic race track!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!