Fast Tracks

Fast Tracks

Did you know the Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) is dubbed “the fastest track in the south?” Thanks to Sunmount Paving’s asphalt blend and techniques, motor racers can take high banking turns even higher! They’ve been using the same custom mix for about 20 years, but the Eurovia area division manager, John Rauer, says they’ve updated their equipment and that “while the balanced mix design (BMD) of the new surface will maintain the same high performance racing surface as the pavement it’s replacing and other NASCAR tracks, there is more specialized equipment available than when his crews laid the outgoing asphalt in 1997.” It took almost a year to decide on the course’s final profile, along with a collaboration with the research company iRacing.

The 1.54-mile AMS reconfiguration required a 28-degree bank, making it the first, and so far the only, of its kind on the circuit. Because paving is typically operated on a flat surface, this bank created challenges for the roller and paver. The team had to be ready and could only solve these issues in real time. Before this track, the company had never paved more than a 24-degree bank. Rauer says their company was lucky to get the initial paving opportunity for speedway tracks all those years ago, and it’s partly due to the fact that their plant is right behind the Texas Motor Speedway. However, their innovative methods and expert attention has served them well. Rauer’s crews have paved numerous speedways across the country, and he’s overseen them all. For tracks over 20 degrees, Sunmount is the go-to contractor.

Rauer states that beneath the AMS track is an “open drainage layer (ODL) that will quietly rush rainwater away from the racing surface, meaning more racing and less waiting for the track to dry.” The purpose is to allow for faster drying time if there is a rain event during the race. It also sends the water down so it doesn’t work its way out of a join to a seam, prolonging the life of the asphalt. Even with all this innovation, they were able to reuse some of the previous asphalt pavement, allowing for portions of the historic tracks to be used again in the new pavement, which is a feel-good story for fans, historians, and environmentalists alike. The asphalt that was not reused in the AMS project has been highly sought after. Some AMS Insider Club members can get a chunk of it as part of their ticket renewal package. And AMS has allowed the selling of jars of asphalt to the public and giving the proceeds to charity. Now, that is some prized asphalt!

Each racetrack Sunmount paves for NASCAR has the same mix in order to maintain consistency. This ensures the racers are dealing with similar textures no matter which track they’re driving on. Next time you’re watching a NASCAR race, take a peek at the asphalt and share some of this interesting information with your friends. And, if you get to visit the AMS track one day, Rauer says it’ll make you a fast fan if you weren’t already.

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