How To Repave A Race Track

Crews destroyed, hauled away, and repaved the 1.4-million square feet of racing surface at Daytona International Speedway in just 19 weeks. It took 100 million pounds of asphalt and a ton of engineering know-how. Here's how they did it.

How To Repave A Race Track

Built in 1958, Florida's 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway tri-oval's one of the most famous locations in American racing. It's home to the eponymous Daytona 500, normally one of the most exciting races on the NASCAR calendar. But this year the "Great American Race" was stopped twice due to a great American infrastructure problem: potholes.

This left the operators of the Daytona International Speedway with just a few months before the start of the 2011 racing season to tear the track down, transport it, and build it back up. Construction engineers quickly laid out the plan for recreating the famous racing surface.

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Starting in July of this year, crews began to haul away the existing 50-year-old track surface. A lot of it. By the second week they'd removed 57 light poles, 5,000 feet of safety barrier, and 17 million pounds of asphalt and lime rock. (Ever the marketers, NASCAR will sell you part of the original track.)

And that was the easy part. Unlike repaving a street in your neighborhood, Daytona's a banked surface designed to allow cars to reach speeds as high as 210 mph. This means crews have to carefully mill and grade each turn for the appropriate angle.

Once the appropriate angle is set, a large dump truck carrying asphalt transfers the crushed rock to a small buggy, which then transports the asphalt to the hydraulic crane. So far this process isn't much different from how it's normally done, but the next step involves a lot of engineering.

The asphalt is transferred from the crane to an ABG Titan 525 Paver, which lays it along the surface of the track. In order to achieve the angle the paver's suspended from the track at a 31-degree angle by a Caterpillar D9 Bulldozer at the top of the track. This is followed by a Hamm DV-8 Double Steel Drum Roller, also suspended by a bulldozer. The Drum Roller uses its immense 40,000 pounds of weight to crush the material into a smooth surface. This is repeated numerous times until the surface is dense enough to support racing.

How To Repave A Race Track

Last week, the finish line was paved and the barriers and catch fences started going back up along the track. Detail work continues as the crew prepares for a tire test on December 15th. It'll be the first time cars will howl around the new surface.

Photo Credit: Getty Images Sport (top), Daytona International Speedway