Atlanta Motor Speedway’s old asphalt has been ripped up and the turns have been re-graded. Now the track just needs to be topped with some fresh asphalt.
“It is not simple I promise you that,” said John Rauer, Division Manager for Sunmount Paving Company. “It looks easy, but it is not a simple process for sure, but it’s what we do.”
Over the last 25 years Rauer has helped pave several racetracks across the country. Right now, Rauer and his crew are working diligently to pave all around Atlanta’s 1.54-mile oval, including its steep corners.
“You’re using equipment that is built for flat ground and we’re trying to stick it on 28 degrees,” said Rauer. “There’s some engineering to it, but it’s mostly trial and error.”
Atlanta Motor Speedway’s new 28-degree banked corners have amplified the challenges that come when paving a racetrack. Quick thinking and adjustments to overcome those obstacles have kept the project moving forward.
“We fabricate something almost every week to help us and come up with new ways to make it better, make it easier,” said Rauer. “For one example with the hook point on the paver it totally didn’t work.”
“We had to make some modifications to the equipment because it wasn’t holding the paver up there,” added Steve Swift, Senior Vice President of Operations and Development for Speedway Motorsports. “The paver wanted to keep coming down the slope.”
“We moved (the hook point) nine inches and that fixed it,” said Rauer. “So it was just a small nine inches (that made the difference).”
Thanks to speedy solutions like that, paving is well underway. All told, about 17,000 tons of material will be used to bring the all-new Atlanta Motor Speedway is coming to life.
“It’s really satisfying to see asphalt going down on the top groove,” said Swift as paving equipment worked its way through the tallest portion of turns 1 and 2 of the speedway. “From here things get easier naturally. Now we’re worried about making sure everything’s smooth, that the grades are right, and that we get a good ride for the competition coming in March.”
Playing a key role in creating the next generation of AMS is something that Rauer and his crew take pride in.
“I always tell everybody when I get off one of these projects and I go to flat paving it’s kind of boring,” Rauer said with a chuckle. “When you’re done, you can come back here and watch it, watch it on TV and know you took part in the process.”
Especially considering the end result will be a spectacle unlike any other.
“That’s the one thing we’re trying to achieve with Marcus (Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports). We knew we had to repave Atlanta; how do we make it unique to the whole circuit? How do we make it its own racetrack, not what was established as a “cookie-cutter” mile-and-a-half? Looking at what we’ve accomplished and what we tried to do, we definitely made it unique.
“So the fans need to see this because it’s going to be something they’ve not seen on any racetrack. There’s not another racetrack out there like it.”
The all-new AMS will make its NASCAR debut during the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 weekend March 18-20, 2022. Tickets and camping for Atlanta’s 2022 NASCAR events are available now at www.AtlantaMotorSpeedway.com.