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Daytona International Speedway Receives Makeover

Fri September 03, 2010 - Southeast Edition
Cindy Riley

With a firm deadline to meet, construction crews at Daytona International Speedway are gearing up to cross the finish line as they complete a historic repave of the famed track.

“We’re repaving the 2.5 mile tri-oval track, the skid pads, apron and pit road, as well as removing all the existing asphalt down to the 52-year-old lime rock base,” explained John Rauer, project manager of general contractor Lane Construction Corporation, headquartered in Cheshire, Conn., which started the project following The Coca-Cola 400 race on July 4, 2010.

“It’s like the Super Bowl. It just doesn’t get any bigger or better than this,” said Rauer.

The project consists of milling 42,833 sq. yds. (35,813 sq m) at 7 in. (17.7 cm) in the front stretch, back stretch and pit road, as well as 36,000 sq. yds. (30,100 sq m) at 5 in. (12.7 cm) on the aprons. In turns one through four, 5,185 cu. yds. (3,964 cu m) of asphalt and lime rock are being raked-off with a long stick Hitachi 450 and then hauled off for crushing. Roughly 20,000 cu. yd. (15,291 cu m) of material will comprise the access roads being built behind the crash walls in the turns. The road is used by the D-9’s that will support the paving equipment in the 31 degree turns.

“The competitive areas of the track will have four lifts,” said Rauer. “The first, the bottom lift, will have a two-inch, open-graded drainage layer ends at the hinge point of the track, paralleled by six-inch perforated under drain. A two-inch base course is next, followed by an inch-and-a-half leveling course, and an inch-and-a-half wearing course. The skid pads and road course tie-ins each get an inch-and-a-half overlay.”

According to Bill Braniff, senior director of construction at North American Testing Corporation, the in-house engineering and design arm of the company overseeing the project, “The last time the track was paved was 32 years ago, and like any track, it has a finite useful life.

“International Speedway Corporation owns and operates a dozen NASCAR tracks around the country, and repaving is always a special event that’s undertaken with the most extreme care and attention to detail. But, that said, Daytona is the crown jewel because it’s the birthplace of NASCAR and it hosts the largest race.

“There’s more prestige associated with this track than any other in the country. There’s no question it has a certain luster. And we’ve been very lucky as far as the weather is concerned. It’s cooperated so far and we’ve taken advantage of it, staying on schedule, which is always a good thing,” Braniff said.

“From an equipment and material standpoint, this project has special requirements. As far as the asphalt mix we use, for our purposes, it’s more advanced than what you’d find on a normal highway where you’re concerned with truck traffic, starting and stopping, etc. We have lateral force from vehicles traveling at high rates of speed, but not vertical so our mix is different. The pavement is obviously more sophisticated and the actual placement of pavement is to a more stringent specification.

“The most obvious difference is that the banking is at 31 degrees at turns one, two, three and four, so all the equipment has to be held up on at that position, or, elsewhere, at 18 degrees, which is still more severe than normal. Clearly, this is no routine project,” Braniff explained

Braniff also was quick to point out, “The response to what we’re doing so far has been very positive. The drivers understand the time has come to repave and the fans seem supportive. They can even sit in the grandstands and watch the progress if they’d like.”

Andrew Booth, manager of media relations of Daytona International Speedway, said fans can actually purchase a piece of discarded asphalt, as a souvenir of the event.

“As we put a new sheet of asphalt down, it’s a very special moment for fans and the sport itself. We’re starting a new chapter, while also looking back on what’s already taken place on this legendary track.”

An estimated 50,000 tons (45,359 t) of asphalt mix will be used as part of the repave, which is being produced by Lane’s temporary asphalt plant located off the backstretch, coming out of turn two. At last report, Lane Construction was grading new skid pad and forming pit road for concrete. Crews also are grading turns three and four, and getting ready for the drainage layer.

All the milling, said Rauer, is milled to grade-off a DTM file (digital terrain model) on the front stretch and backstretch only. The turns will be demolished with an Hitachi 450.

“Some of the biggest challenges to date involve grading the slopes, because gravity works against you. The grader operator only has one shot to get on grade, so if the operator cuts too low, you have to push the limerock back up the hill with a dozer.”

Lane Construction has 34 workers on the project, completing six shifts, 10-hours per day. Additional equipment being used includes an ABG asphalt paver and a Cat D9 dozer to hold the paver, while a Hamm DV8 and Cat D8 dozer holds the roller and a John Deere 672 grader and Cat D9 dozer hold the grader. A DLJ Moon Broom, sweeping on 30 degree slopes, and a Cat 143 grader and Bomag 202 AD roller also are being utilized, along with an ABG 525 fixed-screed paver that places asphalt, a tri-axle dump truck, a Roadtec 1000 shuttle buggy to transfer asphalt from the truck to the crane and a Link-Belt 60 ton hydraulic crane, which supports the conveyor that feeds asphalt to the paver.

As far as special concerns in dealing with racetrack construction, Rauer said, “It would be meeting the profile specs. NASCAR uses a modified California spec where they shrink the blanking band from .2 to .1 and the profile index from 12 to 8. That’s like glass.”

The repaving is being carried out for only the second time in the track’s history. The project must be completed by Jan. 1, 2011, to allow enough time for tire testing and preparations for the Daytona 500 in February. CEG

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