Sunday, May 15, 2016

Safety First at Dover International Speedway


Credit: Dover International Speedway
By Carol D’Agostino 

Managing capital improvements against profitability is a difficult balancing act for any business. When it comes to sports like NASCAR, the challenges for tracks are even more cumbersome. However, for Dover International Speedway, it’s a no-brainer: safety is the first priority.

“Of course the fan experience is critical, but we don’t sacrifice safety of the drivers in lieu of any enhancements. First and foremost are the competitors and driver safety,” said Mike Tatoian, president and CEO of Dover International Speedway.

Tatoian explained that after each race weekend the staff collects data from all aspects of the operation to determine what areas may need to be changed or improved upon to keep the overall quality high.

Improvements made at Dover International Speedway prior to this race weekend included extending Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barriers by almost 500 feet along the backstretch and into the entrance of Turn 3. The track also expanded the pit stalls along pit road by 2 feet each.

The specific enhancements are:
  • 487 feet of SAFER barriers were added to the one-mile, high-banked, concrete oval.
  • Seventy-eight feet of standard SAFER barriers were added to the existing inside backstretch wall and 401 feet were included in front of a new, steel-post inside wall on a newly-placed stretch of concrete in front of the grassy area at the entrance to Turn 3. The Monster Bridge over Turn 3 entrance sits above the new construction area.
  • The SAFER barriers are 40 inches high.
  • Along the new stretch of wall, one foam block is placed every 5½ feet within the SAFER barrier to maximize safety from crash impacts.
  • 190 cubic yards of concrete, 7 feet wide and 18 inches deep, was added to the track.
  • Along pit road, three pit stalls were eliminated, leaving space for 40 cars. Each pit stall was increased 2 feet in length, to 34 total feet. All stalls remain 16 feet wide.
  • 550 feet of new asphalt was added between the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage entrance and the Start-Finish line.
Despite the SAFER barrier improvements, there were crashes during Friday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup practice and during Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY race where cars managed to find unprotected wall. Fortunately no one was injured.

Additional safety enhancements are being made at other tracks throughout the NASCAR circuit including at Pocono Raceway. Pocono has added additional SAFER barriers and extended the pit wall as part of their enhancements. The pit wall has been lengthened 100 feet, and 6,600 feet of SAFER barrier has been added. Anticipated improvements for the 2017 season include the installation of an additional 5,100 feet of SAFER barrier.  
Credit: Dover International Speedway
 

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