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CMS Roval Could Host Other Series

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 19 2018

The owner of Charlotte Motor Speedway said Indy car and sports cars may be coming to town. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Andrew Coppley)

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Speedway Motorsports Inc. President and CEO Marcus Smith said Saturday that with the creation of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL it was possible that IMSA and/or the Verizon IndyCar Series could return to the iconic facility.

IMSA visited the facility in the early 1980s, utilizing the speedway’s old road course. Indy Cars raced on the 1.5-mile oval 1997-98.

“Jeff Gordon tested his Cadillac on our course before he went to the Daytona 24-Hour race last year,” Smith said. “It wasn’t 100 percent ready for a race, but it was ready for practice. We’ve had lots of sports cars out, manufacturer-based programs and driving schools. They love it. So I could see other series wanting to come and race on it.”

The 2.28-mile ROVAL consists of 17 turns and two chicanes, one on the oval’s frontstretch and another on the backstretch. Smith said the most challenging part of preparing the course was the fact they were in unchartered waters.

“We are not doing it as a one-time deal. It’s not a temporary situation,” Smith said. “We’re designing it and building it to be a world-class road course.”  

In addition to developing the new course, speedway officials constructed a pedestrian bridge for those camping in the course’s infield and replaced the grass on the frontstretch apron with 929 tons of sand and 111,500 square feet of artificial field turf. It took six to eight weeks to replace the natural grass. Smith said track officials worked closely with Fields Inc. to find the special synthetic turf.

“They found this specially made (synthetic turf) that has a really high flash point, I think it’s over 2,000 degrees,” Smith said. “It doesn’t tear up. It’s a perfect product for us. We’re the only place in North America where this application has been installed.”

Smith doesn’t anticipate any issues with the turf if it rains during a race weekend.

“There is a massive drainage system that we installed specifically for the turf, so it is substantially better drainage than anything in the sport,” Smith said. “It has more capacity to handle water than anything we have ever done before. It is going to really help get it dry very quickly.”

Described by speedway officials as a “new fan entertainment area”, it will be used following the Sept. 29 Drive for the Cure 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race for a Sammy Hagar concert. The 90-minunte concert by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee begins at 9 p.m. and is free to Bank of America employees and ticket holders to the Cup and/or Xfinity series races. Prior to the concert, “NASCAR Trackside Live” will host a show at 7:45 p.m. at the location.

Track officials also have created a camping area in the middle of the road course, which along with the 600 Terrace RV spots that overlook turns one and two on the oval and the pit suites, are sold out. The pedestrian bridge goes over the road course’s turn three and allows access to the eye or infield of the ROVAL from the area beside the Bojangles concession stand. The 80-foot long, 9-foot wide bridge span weighs 22,000 pounds. The open-air walkway has 2 elevators for those unable to use the steps.

“When we were doing some testing on the track with Mario Andretti, he was the one who said we needed to have campers on the inside of the track where the road course starts to take shape,” Smith said. “We had to do some extra work with walls that we hadn’t planned on. We hadn’t planned on the (pedestrian) bridge that we’re putting in.”

The concourse under the Grand National Tower grandstand is being renovated as well.  

During a press conference Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway, Smith and Charlotte Executive Vice President Greg Walter unveiled the winner’s trophy for the Bank of America ROVAL 400. The three-foot tall, 60-pound trophy has a floating outline of the ROVAL course and is a replica of the Bank of America corporate center in Charlotte, N.C.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 19 2018
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