Michigan International Speedway to be repaved for 2012

Michigan International Speedway will be repaved for the fourth time in its history, track officials announced today.

Work to resurface the 43-year-old racetrack will begin immediately following this weekend’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 with the repave of pit road.

Repaving the rest of the track’s two-mile oval racing surface will begin immediately following the August 19 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. The track was built in 1968. The track was repaved in 1977, 1986 and 1995.

“The racing surface is the heart of our business, and after careful inspection, we’ve decided it’s time to repave,” speedway President Roger Curtis said. “It’s important to note the repave will maintain the existing geometry of the racetrack; nothing will change but the surface. When finished, it will be the same racetrack the drivers love to race on, only smoother.”

The oval track repaving project consists of removing the top two inches of the existing asphalt pavement, and placing two lifts of asphalt – each 1 ½ inches thick – as a leveling course and a final wearing course.  About 646,000-square-feet of asphalt will be removed. And another 22,000 tons of new asphalt will go in its place.

Track pavement wears out as a result of normal wear and tear, weather, and the course of using the surface over and over again. Curtis has met with many of the NASCAR drivers to explain the process and share some of the findings that survey crews have uncovered about what makes Michigan International Speedway so unique and a driver favorite.

A laser survey of the existing track surface collects approximately 100 million data points, allowing engineers to replicate the original pavement – yet smooth out all of the dips and bumps that have occurred over time.

Those data points have shown the racetrack has 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.

Engineers have added repaving MIS could create increased competition.

“Since the track is smoother, it creates a level playing field for all competitors,” Curtis explained. “Some teams have a larger historic database from running the track from past events. This data base can 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 teams.”

Additionally, a smoother surface usually means more grip with the tires, and more grip means better handling.

The $7 million project will be done by Ajax Paving Industries in Troy, Mich., who has extensive background in paving high-speed, high-banked ovals including Phoenix International Raceway, 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 ISC Design & Development engineering and construction team overseeing the project has paved seven NASCAR sanctioned tracks since 2003, the most recent being the repave of Daytona International Speedway.