Two big bits of news for you all here.
First up.Announced this week in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Texas Motor Speedway will begin a major capital improvement project today consisting of a complete repave, construction of an extensive drainage system and a re-profiling of the 1.5-mile oval configuration.
The renovation will add a new layer of asphalt over the existing pavement, an expansive French drainage system on the frontstretch and backstretch, and reduce the banking in turns one and two by four degrees. Barring extensive weather delays, the project is expected to be completed by early to mid-March in advance of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Nascar doubleheader scheduled for April 7-9.
The repaving and drainage system come as a result of issues the facility was incurring in attempting to dry the racing surface, in particular this past year when both Nascar race weekends and the Verizon INDYCAR Series race were affected by weather-related delays. While the aged track surface at Texas Motor Speedway is lauded by drivers, speedway officials made the decision to repave in the best interests of their fans that had to deal with the inconveniences of the delays.
“The fans are why we are doing this,” Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. “The old pavement no longer dried as quickly because through the years of use and weather, the asphalt became porous, kind of like a sponge. Even if we only had a brief shower it was taking us far too long to get the track dried in order to get on to the racing. We owe it to the fans to present the best possible race track so they will be assured of seeing Nascar and INDYCAR races even if we face some brief inclement weather. This will accomplish that goal.”
Lane Construction Corp. will handle the repaving project. The company has paved several prominent speedways since 2003 including such marquee facilities as Charlotte Motor Speedway, Daytona Int’l Speedway, Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. The repave will feature an asphalt mix similar to the surfaces at SMI sister tracks, Kentucky Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The mix used in conjunction with the construction method will aid in the track’s properties of an “aged” track.
For the installation of the French drainage system, trenches will be cut in numerous locations on the frontstretch and backstretch to provide multiple points for water to drain away from the facility more quickly and efficiently than the current system. The drainable mat installation that will tie into a continuous toe drain will aid in the drainage of the track as well.
In addition to the repaving and drainage system, Texas Motor Speedway will undergo a re-profiling in turns one and two to give the venue a more unique layout from its currently symmetrical 24-degree banking in all four turns. While turns three and four will remain unchanged, the banking of turns one and two will be decreased to 20 degrees with the racing surface width expanding from 60 to 80 feet in that section of the track.
“Due to the issues we had in 2016 with moisture and track drying, we had to take steps to correct the problems to give the fans the experience they deserve,” said Speedway Motorsports Inc. Vice President of Operations and Development Steve Swift, who is coordinating the project. “With that task at hand, we looked at what would be the best way to create more exciting racing and to correct the water issues. We are excited to put these practices in place and create another great SMI race.”
The reduced banking, which will decrease lap speeds and potentially open up additional passing opportunities in turns one and two, will provide Texas Motor Speedway with a new, distinctive layout for a 1.5-mile oval. “For years, I’ve heard the absurd comments about 1.5-mile tracks being tagged as ‘cookie-cutter’ tracks,” President Eddie Gossage said. “While nothing could be further from the truth – all 1.5-mile tracks are different – this assures once and for all that Texas Motor Speedway is unique, unlike any other track in the sport. That’s the way we like it here in No Limits, Texas.”
This will be the second full repave since Texas Motor Speedway opened in 1997. That project occurred in the summer of 2001.
Then second up on the news front from IndyCar.
Fans of the series can expect the current Dallara DW012 Indy car chassis to be used at least through the 2020 Verizon INDYCAR Series season before a new car is developed, according to Jay Frye, INDYCAR’s president of competition and operations.
The 2016 aero kit rules have been frozen for this season, so Chevrolet and Honda are not allowed to make any developmental changes to the bolt-on pieces that began on-track competition in 2015.In 2018, a standard aero kit will be used by both manufacturers with the hopes of luring a third engine participant to the series.
“We have a plan and we put this plan together and talked about it with our paddock and both Chevrolet and Honda and they are very enthusiastic about that plan,” Frye said. “Simultaneously, we have also shared this plan with other OEM prospects because we thought it would be wise for them to have equity in the direction we are going. The worst thing we could have done would be to come up with a plan and then taken it to the other OEMs and they didn’t want to do that either. We feel good about where we are, where we are going and confident we will get another OEM.”
Then something I feel all fans will agree on
Legendary open-wheel racer Dario Franchitti, who won three Indianapolis 500s as well as the 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona, will serve as Grand Marshal for the 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28-29 at Daytona Int’l Speedway. Franchitti will deliver the command “Drivers, start your engines” for North America’s most prestigious sports car event.
“We’re honored to have Dario Franchitti serve as the Grand Marshal for the 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona,” Daytona Int’l Speedway President Chip Wile said. “Dario has had a decorated career in open-wheel racing and conquered sports car racing’s grueling twice-around-the-clock challenge in 2008. Fans and competitors are looking forward to his starting command as we kick off Speedweeks 2017.”
A native of Scotland, Franchitti captured four INDYCAR Series championships (2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011) as well as three Indianapolis 500s (2007, 2010 and 2012). Overall, Franchitti has 265 starts in INDYCAR racing with 31 wins and 33 poles.
In the 2008 Rolex 24, Franchitti and co-drivers Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and Juan Montoya captured the overall victory by a margin of two laps driving for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Franchitti also has a class win in the 12 Hours of Sebring.Franchitti retired from competition in 2013 but is still active in the sport, serving as a team advisor for Chip GanassiRacing with Felix Sabates.
Hard to think January is flying on by already not long until all the world Motorsport scene kicks off once again, all the very best everyone enjoy the read.