Michigan International Speedway announced it has completed the fourth repave project in the track's 44-year history is complete.
A laser survey of the racetrack before the repave project began last August collected more than 100 million data points across the surface, allowing engineers to replicate all points of the original pavement. But crews smoothed out all of the dips and bumps that occurred over time, with the aim of providing a smooth racing surface for NASCAR, which races there in June and August 2012.
“Since the track is so much smoother, it has now created a level playing field for all competitors and all teams,” declared track president Roger Curtis. “Some teams have a larger book of historical information about the track from past events. All this data can now be thrown out the window because the new, smooth surface will mean the less experienced teams have just as much knowledge of the new surface as the larger, more experienced super teams.”
The data points also showed MIS has always had variable banking in its 18-degree turns. Variable banking allows cars to carry more speed through the turns, enabling drivers to run multiple lines around the racetrack. Additionally, a smoother surface usually means more grip with the tires, and more grip means better handling of the cars so drivers feel good about passing and driving high lines.
The $7 million project was done by Ajax Paving Industries in Troy, Mich., who has extensive background in paving high-speed, high-banked ovals including the Chrysler Corp. oval in Chelsea, Mich., and the Ford Romeo Test Track for Ford Motor Co., a five-mile, steep-banked oval used by the manufacturer for testing. The group also completed the recent repaving of Phoenix International Raceway, which will host NASCAR events this weekend.
Besides completion of the two-mile oval, the 1.5-mile road course inside the oval was also paved and unveiled to media Thursday. The paving of the road course will enhance the speedway's efforts to be a test bed for various R&D opportunities, while allowing the racetrack to host karting and car club activities.
“We have always wanted to host as many activities as we can at MIS, bringing additional business and tourism to our region, along with an improved testing facility that is now even more attractive for groups wanting to test their respective technologies here,” Curtis said. “This is our plan and our brand to showcase MIS to new and potential guests.”
With paving complete, a few small projects remain to round out all the track work, including landscape restoration, re-installation of the NASCAR scoring loops and painting the start-finish line.
This is the fourth repave in the track's history. Originally built in 1968, MIS was repaved in 1977, 1986 and 1995.