Speedway’s surface paving the way
The earth has been moved.
And now at Kansas Speedway, where 11 million cubic yards of dirt have been moved, everything's right on track.
Including the asphalt surface, of which the first of three layers, called the base course, was laid on the 1.5 mile tri-oval track last week.
On Sunday, Billy Boat, a driver in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, gave the base course the acid test, driving in speeds in excess of 130 mph.
Sammie Lukaskiewicz, public relations coordinator for Kansas Speedway, said the test went well. "He was really pleased with the track, the design and the layout of it," Lukaskiewicz said.
A good track is crucial to the success of the Speedway.
"If we don't have a good racing surface, not only is it a danger to the drivers and the spectators, but it doesn't create good racing," Lukaskiewicz said.
It's important to test each layer as it's completed.
"Since we had a test so early on in our paving, this will help ensure that the final surface is perfect," Lukaskiewicz said. "It's kind of like a lump in the cake, you can't cover it up with icing, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger."
An Indy car was used for the test, Lukaskiewicz said, because of it's sensitivity.
"It's fitted with about 50 laser sensors that transmit data back to the crew chief," she said. "They can make a printout of the grid of the entire track to analyze it."
Because Winston cup stock cars aren't as sensitive as Indy cars, they're not used to test pavement, she added.
Another crucial aspect of construction is the slope of the track.
For instance, because the track slopes 15 degrees in the turns, 10.4 degrees in the front stretch and 5 degrees in the back stretch, caution has to be taken to ensure that the asphalt rollers don't cut grooves on the lower side of the roller. That's why each roller is equipped with an outstretched wheeled arm to provide support.
Jeff Boerger, Kansas Speed-way vice president and general manager, noted that the quality of the pavement is critical.
"The actual paving of the track perhaps the most important element of the facility," Boerger said. "It can dictate how drivers compete during a race and we are making every effort to ensure the track will be the best on the circuit to enhance not only the driver's experience, but for the fans watching the races as well."
Terry Flanagan, the principal-in-charge of the project for HNTB Architects Engineers Planners, said a track's success depends on geometrics and pavement.
The racecars travel from 180- to- 190 mph, so the slope of the track is critical to allow the drivers to go those speeds, Flanagan said.
Of note is that the third and top layer of asphalt, the wearing course, uses blast furnace slag used for the course aggregate, Flanagan said.
"It's a very high friction type of rock," Flanagan said.
Instead of polishing with time and use, the slag in the top surface breaks off and allows more friction.
"This unique, high-tech track pavement has been specifically designed to take into account the high speeds, approaching 220 mph, hot temperatures and tire friction characteristics of the cars that will be racing on it," Flanagan said.
Track officials expect to see completion of the track's surface by mid-October.