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Kansas Speedway To Get Major Facelift In 2012

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, July 7 2011

Kansas Speedway will be reconfigured and repaved next year. (File photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Kansas City, Kan. – Kansas Speedway has received permission from parent company International Speedway Corp. to undertake a “massive” revamping of it’s 10-year-old racing facility.

The project will include a reconfiguring of its 1.5-mile tri-oval, a re-excavating and resurfacing of the track and the construction of an infield road-racing course.

“Essentially,” Kansas Speedway president Pat Warren said “we will be rebuilding the track.”

The project will begin following next year’s STP 400 Sprint Cup race early in the season and be completed by the time the track hosts its fall Cup weekend.

On the reconfiguring of the oval portion of the track, the current 15-degree banking will be increased by to up to 20 degrees of variable banking in the turns.

To accomplish this reconfiguration, construction crews will remove the existing oval track asphalt pavement and re-grade the underlying soil to create the variable banking. In addition to the turns, the frontstretch, backstretch and pit road will all be reconstructed.

Warren said it is expected that speeds at the track will increase after the reconfiguration and that possibly, the competitiveness of the racing will also improve.

Even though the current surface is only 10 years old, it has taken a beating from the elements. It has had to be repeatedly patched and its expansion joints filled with tar. So much tar was used in recent years, and so big of a problem did they cause for drivers, that last year Kurt Busch jokingly referred to them as “tar of death”.

“Repaving a track is a huge undertaking so we decided it was the right time to make the other changes to our facility, which we believe will enhance our fans experience at Kansas Speedway,” Warren said.

When told earlier this year during the Cup weekend of racing that Kansas was going to repave, several drivers said they were not for it. They said the surface was coming in nicely in terms of producing good racing and an new, grippier surface could spoil that.

Warren said there was really no other choice but to repave.

“It would not be safe” in the near future, he said of the old asphalt. “It was not workable.”

Gaps between lanes between turns 3 and 4 had grown to almost 4 inches. The earth under the track was compacting and in time, may have collapsed.

“If that were to happen on a race weekend, we would be in trouble,” Warren said.

Warren said that new technologies in asphalt and paving, along with the improving of draining conditions during reconstruction, should prevent the  new surface from suffering the fate of the old one.

As first reported by RacinToday,com last year, the project was developed by the speedway in 2010 and then submitted to ISC. On Thursday the permission to go ahead with the project was granted.

The road course will likely attract a Grand-Am Sports Car Series race after it is completed. Grand-Am could be at Kansas as early as 2013.

The exact shape and size of the road course is yet to be determined. It will be about 2 miles in length, have approximately five turns in the infield portion and utilize much of the oval and its new variable banking in turns.

Construction of the road course will fulfill a promise to the State of Kansas – ISC said it would build the track if the state granted it permission to construct a casino on a piece of property which overlooks Turn 2 of the oval.

The Hollywood Casino is under construction. It should be ready to host customers by the spring race next season.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, July 7 2011
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