NASCAR »

New track drying technology to slash rain delays

A new approach to drying tracks after wet weather could slash rain delays by as much as 80 per cent, NASCAR estimated in a major pre-season announcement on Wednesday.
With the start of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season coming up fast with next month's Daytona 500, everyone will be remembering what happened at last year's race: a day and a half late in running due to poor weather, a further in-race rain delay brought the jet driers back out on track and in a bizarre accident Juan Montoya's car spun into the back of one of the machines and ignited its load of aviation fuel in a huge fireball.

Fortunately Montoya and the driver of the jet drier were uninjured, but that incident combined with the more typical frustration of having to wait for hours for a track to be laboriously dried by jet driers after a downpour has spurred NASCAR on to take a new look at how it can dry tracks more efficiently and safely.

"It has always been a difficult thing for our fans, both on television and certainly at the track, that once it rains, how long it takes us to get the track dried again," agreed NASCAR chairman Brian France.

"Let's change the way we do it, let's innovate, let's get a system," France had told his in-house technical development team. "The goal is to improve it by 80 per cent. So that means if we're drying Daytona off, where it usually took two and a half hours, we get it down to 30 minutes. That's the goal. And we're real close."

With the 30-minute target for the two and a half mile Daytona International Speedway, shorter tracks such as the half-mile Martinsville circuit could be ready in just 15 minutes after the rain stops. As well as safer and more efficient, the new process will be more eco-friendly according to France: “We are going to do it in a much more green, carbon-emission friendly way,” he said.

The answer to the perennial track drying problem appears to lie in using compressed air rather than the brute force of a jet engine. NASCAR was circumspect about the details as some patents are still going through, but the overall principle seems to echo that of the innovative Dyson Airblade hand-dryers which blast off moisture with a thin concentrated 'edge' of air rather than older driers that use heaters to do most of the work.

“It uses compressed air as opposed to a jet engine," explained NASCAR President Mike Helton. "It's designed to expedite 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.”

"There's a lot more use of vacuums as well," added NASCAR's senior vice president of operations Steve O'Donnell. "It's just different technology."

Helton added that the new driers would vary from their jet counterparts “quite a bit, visually and operationally," although it proved difficult for him to describe their appearance in words: “a gain of pipes behind a pickup truck that the air is being pushed through as opposed to a jet dryer," he offered.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Rain falls in the garage area during NASCAR Testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway at Charlotte Motor Speedway on January 17, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Rain falls on pit road delaying the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 5, 2012 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Crew members push the #14 Office Depot Back to School Chevrolet, driven by Tony Stewart, back to the garage as rain falls during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 5, 2012 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
A NASCAR official holds an umbrella as a track jet dryer drives by before the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 8, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Track workers clean Turn 3 at Daytona International Speedway after a mechanical failure to Juan Pablo Montoya`s car caused it to slideinto a track dryer [Pic credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Track workers test the new NASCAR Air Titan track dryer at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. The new dryer system uses compressed air to force standing water from the racing surface faster than the existing jet dryer system. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Track workers test the new NASCAR Air Titan track dryer at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. The new dryer system uses compressed air to force standing water from the racing surface faster than the existing jet dryer system. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
With General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, holds the Michigan Heritage Trophy after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. In 2013, MIS began awarding the Michigan Heritage Trophy as a recognition and celebration of the automobile and it`s importance to the race track and the manufacturers competing in NASCAR. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Johnny Sauter, driver of the #98 Nextant/Curb Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Careers For Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, captured the pole position Friday, August 15, 2014 for Sunday`s Pure Michigan NASCAR Sprint Cup 400 race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. The was Gordon`s second pole position this season. He set a new track record in the final round of qualifying with a lap of 206.558 mph. Gordon is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates capturing the pole position Friday, August 15, 2014 for Sunday`s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. The was Gordon`s second pole position this season. He set a new track record in the final round of qualifying with a lap of 206.558 mph. Gordon is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
The #28 Texas 28 Spirits Stage Dodge, driven by JJ Yeley, is seen after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York.  (Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Trevor Bayne, driver of the #6 AdvoCare Ford, leads the field during the start of the Nationwide Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway on August 2, 2014 in Newton, Iowa (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Nationwide Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway on August 2, 2014 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.