Saturday, Jan 29

Clever Solutions Are Hidden Beneath the Surface of the All-New Atlanta Motor Speedway

Tuesday, Nov 09 400
Clever Solutions Are Hidden Beneath the Surface of the All-New Atlanta Motor Speedway AMS Photo

Paving a racetrack, particularly one as steeply banked as the all-new Atlanta Motor Speedway, is no small undertaking.

“A lot of technology has gone into how and what we use to put down the asphalt," said Steve Swift, Senior Vice President of Operations and Development for Speedway Motorsports. "Any time that you’re putting machinery on 28 degrees – it’s not meant to be there. So there’s a lot of technology that goes into that to make sure the engineering is right, the angles are right, and you’re getting the proper compaction and you’ve got your weight distribution correct."

While that process is a challenge, it’s also a massive opportunity to improve the track from top to bottom. While many will notice the steeper, freshly paved banking, the new AMS also has some new features that’ll be hidden beneath the surface.

“In the last five years we’ve looked at how we take care of ground water," said Swift. "We’ve had races that have been postponed because of weepers.”

To mitigate these issues, the AMS project called for installation of a new drainage system all around the track and an Open Drainage Layer, or ODL. The ODL is a porous layer of asphalt is designed to better absorb ground water and lead it to the drainage system, away from the racing surface.

“The bottom line for our race fans is more time on track and less down time," said AMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Brandon Hutchison. "In the unfortunate circumstance we do get some type of weather, this ODL layer is going to quickly absorb the water as it hits the track and take it down to that drainage system. Which ultimately means we get back to racing quicker.”

The benefits aren’t limited to just race day.

“It’s a large investment for a company to put this ( asphalt) in. We want to make sure it lasts as long as it possibly can," said Swift. The ODL and drainage system will help ensure the longevity of the track by removing excess moisture beneath the racing surface. Left unchecked, moisture degrades an asphalt surface and limits its lifespan.

“Which is a big thing that you see on highways when you see potholes on your everyday drive and you see that they’ve gotta replace asphalt, it’s usually because of water and wear and tear," explained Swift.

To extend the life of Atlanta’s old racing surface, the speedway’s operations department had to work vigorously to limit the amount of moisture below the surface. Going forward with the new ODL, they’ll have a partner hidden beneath the racing surface removing excess water day after day and year after year.

“(The water is) not going to stay in the track. If it’s cold, if it’s hot – it isn’t going to expand, it’s not going to contract - which means a longer lifespan for our racing surface," said Hutchison.

“With the ODL and the drainage that’ll be in place, that takes care of any of that ground water that comes up so we don’t have weepers in the future and 10 years, 20 years down the road that ground water has somewhere to get out," added Swift.

With the water taken care of, the focus can stay on what we all enjoy: the racing.

“We know that this new design for Atlanta Motor Speedway is going to provide an entertaining racing package that no one in NASCAR has ever seen before. Never before has 28 degrees been on an intermediate track," said Hutchison. "We hope the fans come out to join us.”

The all-new Atlanta Motor Speedway makes its NASCAR debut in 2022. Tickets for both race weekends are available now at www.AtlantaMotorSpeedway.com.

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