Hidden beneath the surface of the new reconfiguration is ground breaking science
Atlanta Motor Speedway was formerly one of the oldest surfaces in NASCAR. That changes for 2022 as the track is in the process of being repaved.
Drivers and fans alike didn’t want a repave, nobody asked for one. However, the old course asphalt created many issues with water. The old surface would hold water and take many hours to dry. That created issues on race weekends, with any sort of weather in the forecast.
The fact that the track held water created other issues. In the winter, water under the surface would expand and crack the asphalt. Every year, Atlanta Motor Speedway installed a compound in the cracks of the track, an attempt to limit the amount of water that could get into the track.
The old track was high maintenance.
2022 Repave: They’re going pack racing?
After the last race in 2021, track workers went to work. Walls were removed, the track surface was removed and now a new surface has been installed.
For 2022, the track banking has been increased to 28 degrees. That makes it the highest banked intermediate track.
The track has also been narrowed. The old racing surface was 55′ wide will the new one is just 40′ wide.
Track owner Speedway Motorsports Inc is looking to create pack racing, on an intermediate oval. It hasn’t been done before. However, SMI tested multiple configurations on the digital iRacing surface and this is the one that stuck.
Earlier this year, Atlanta Motor Speedway released an iRacing video from the digital version of the reconfigured track. It featured Daytona/Talladega style racing.
However, the decision create pack racing on a 1.5-mile oval has been met with resistance and doubt from the drivers in the sport. Earlier this year, many drivers spoke out, confused with their plan.
Kevin Harvick said it wasn’t the right thing to do and they should have built a short track. Denny Hamlin said the track could have got some advice from the drivers to help create pack racing but noted narrowing the track won’t help create that.
Technology under the surface
As mentioned, Atlanta Motor Speedway had a water issue. However, that issue is no longer as new paving technology has been used to solve the problem.
The track features multiple layers of asphalt. Each layer serves a different purpose. Under the surface layer, is genius technology.
The top layer, doesn’t hold water, at all. Instead, the water runs right through it. The layer underneath it then catches the water that went through the first layer and guides it down the banking to the apron of the track. On the apron, Atlanta has installed a new drainage system that goes the full length of the track.
Watch the video below. In it, you can visually see water running between the asphalt layers.
This is a game changer for oval race tracks who don’t have the option of rain tires.
Crews have been working around the clock, using the speedway lights to their advantage. The new track will make it’s NASCAR debut on March 20, 2022.