$3 Million Resurfacing Project Underway
Work started Jan. 16 and will be completed prior to the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on Saturday night, May 20, and the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday evening, May 28.
"We are going to remold the track to take some of the meaness out of it," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "This is one of the meanest tracks on the NEXTEL Cup circuit and by that I mean it can bite you when you least expect it.
"Meaness in a race track comes from a number of factors including: how rough the surface is; the difficulty of the entry and exit points in the turns; the ability of the drivers to look ahead; and spots where the racing groove narrows," Wheeler continued. "Although we've had a few exceptions, rookies don't normally do well here because the track is quite difficult and there's even a few seasoned veterans who have never really gotten the hang of it."
Wheeler said track officials spent several months consulting with engineers and motorsports industry insiders before deciding on a resurfacing plan they believe will promote side-by-side racing and passing without completely reinventing the track's personality.
"To really understand a race track, you need to look at it from high above right after a race and study where the black groove is," Wheeler explained. "What you want is for that groove to be two-car widths wide so you can have side-by-side racing and passing, which is one of the main reasons people buy tickets.
"To achieve this, we are going to change the profile of the turns by smoothing them out and making the radiuses more consistent," Wheeler continued. "This will make the track more predictable."
Engineers will utilize three-dimensional digital surveying techniques and computer-controlled paving machines, technology not available when the track was built in 1960 or last repaved in 1994.
"Repaving a high-banked race track is one of the most difficult jobs in the asphalt industry," Wheeler said. "Using the relatively new process of three-dimensional digital surveying to define elevations that are accurate to an eighth of an inch along with computerized-paving machines will significantly improve the resurfacing process. The tracks in Texas and Atlanta benefited greatly from this technology.
"We are also going to use a special polymer in the asphalt mix which will better absorb heat and give the surface more traction," added Wheeler. "We believe doing all these things will result in a track that will produce the best possible racing for fans and competitors."
In excess of 10,000 tons of the special asphalt mixture will be required to cover the entire 1.5-mile speedway and pit road. The paving is scheduled to be completed by March 27, allowing time for a Goodyear tire test prior to the May 1-3 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing session.
The resurfacing project marks the third time the entire 1.5-mile oval has been repaved since the track opened in 1960. The first new layer of asphalt was applied in 1973 and the most recent repaving came prior to the 1994 season. In between, the track's corners received fresh coats of asphalt in 1979 and 1987.
Sunmount Corp., of Roanoke, Texas, is the contractor that will repave Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sunmount is the industry leader in resurfacing high-banked race tracks and its resume includes six high-profile facilities including Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. The company will also repave Talladega Superspeedway this summer.
Tickets for all May events at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on Saturday night, May 20, and the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday evening, May 28, are available by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or visiting www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.