New technology could dry Daytona in 30 minutes
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Daytona International Speedway, dried in 30 minutes?
That’s the goal with the new track-drying system NASCAR plans to debut next month at Speedweeks, a year after the Daytona 500 was postponed for the first time in the event’s history due to rain. Instead of blowing hot air across the track surface as jet dryers do now, the new system will use compressed air to dry asphalt in a fraction of the time.
Tuesday, Jan. 22 Video: NASCAR President Mike Helton on the Gen-6 car
Imagine a drying time of 30 minutes for 2.5-mile Daytona. According to NASCAR Chairman Brian France, that will be possible with the new dryers, considerably shortening a routine that typically takes several hours. NASCAR’s goal is to make drying half-mile Martinsville in 15 minutes a reality.
The first generation of that system will debut at Speedweeks, and it will more eco-friendly as well more efficient than its predecessor.
“We also are going to do it in a much more green, carbon-emission friendly way,” France said.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s senior vice president for race operations, said 24 of the new NASCAR-developed dryers will be on site at Daytona next month. Robin Pemberton, the circuit’s vice president for competition, added that the new technology was tested at Daytona and Charlotte and is ready for use next month.
The new dryers vary from the traditional jet dryers “quite a bit, visually and operationally,” NASCAR President Mike Helton said. “It uses compressed air as opposed to a jet engine. It's designed to expedite, obviously, the removal of water using compressed air and heat, where the jet dryers were simply designed around blowing and depended more on hot air. The new system depends more on compressed air.”
NASCAR executives found it difficult to explain the look of the new system, which Helton called “a gain of pipes behind a pickup truck that the air is being pushed through, as opposed to a jet dryer.” Regardless, it’s another step forward in what has formerly been a painfully slow process.
“There's a few faces out here that will remember when we used to dry tracks off with just a fleet of vehicles going around the race track, or dragging tires behind pickup trucks,” Helton said. “And then someone came along with the jet dryer that expedited it quite a bit and served its purpose for a long period of time, but in today's world with the expectations of getting the show done and getting it on, there was a high priority placed by Brian and the rest of us to come up with a way that we could expedite that. And Robin and the folks at the R&D Center responded to that and came up with ideas, and this one seems to have quite a bit of validity to it."