Roger Curtis assists with milling of track
Ajax Paving began milling the Michigan International Speedway oval Tuesday with assistance by an unlikely and not-so-shy person, track President Roger Curtis.
Curtis took Ajax up on its offer to ride aboard a milling machine on the five-degree backstretch as the track enters the second stage of its fourth repave in history.
The backstretch is being milled, while crews remove the SAFER barriers in the turns. Milling of the high 18-degree turns and the 12-degree frontstretch will begin in the next few days, with paving set to begin in September.
“What a great opportunity to ride along and assist the Ajax crews and their contractors with this historic moment,” Curtis said. “The process to repave the track will take a lot of time and it’s a slow and tedious process, but we’ll be ready to go for racing by June 2012.”
Today started the removal of 646,000-square-feet of asphalt around the two-mile oval in just the fourth repave in the track’s storied 43-year history. The track was also repaved in 1977, 1986 and 1995.
The repave consists of removing the top three-fourths of an inch of existing asphalt pavement, and placing two lifts of asphalt – each 1 ½ inches thick – as a leveling course and a final wearing course.
Once the track has been milled, 22,000 tons of new asphalt will go in its place.
Some 5,575 feet of SAFER barrier is being removed from the outside crash wall. SAFER walls mounted on interior walls on the backstretch, at pit-in and at pit-out will stay in place.
A laser survey of the existing track surface collects approximately 100 million data points, allowing engineers to replicate the original pavement – yet smooth out all of the dips and bumps that have occurred over time.
Those data points have shown the racetrack has variable banking in its 18-degree turns. Variable banking allows cars to carry more speed through the turns, enabling drivers to run multiple lines around the racetrack.
“We aren’t changing the geometry of the track; we’re simply making it smoother by repaving it,” Curtis said. “With the variable banking, we still expect four- and five-wide, competitive racing when NASCAR returns in 2012.”
Pit Road was repaved following the June NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend.
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