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Smoothing the Infield Operation

New tunnel system should make life better for racing teams and fans at Daytona

Paving Article September 09, 2004
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A 36-ft clear span x 10-ft rise x 516-ft long Con/Span tunnel will be part of the new and exciting multifaceted infield renovation project that is currently in progress at the Daytona International Speedway. In one of its most aggressive construction projects since Daytona International Speedway (DIS) was built in 1958, the immense renovation began following the 46th running of the Pepsi 400 on July 3, 2004, and is scheduled to be completed in time for the Speedway’s World Karting Association events in December.

The tunnel, which will be located in Turn 1 of the speedway, will provide infield access to accommodate team transport vehicles and guests’ specialty vehicles. According to NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competitor Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet, “They are putting a tunnel in here that is much larger than what we have. It will allow haulers and motor coaches to enter and exit the track while races are happening which is actually really important. That is not something that has been possible before because the tunnel here at this point is too small. For a guy that falls out early or a coach driver that would like to leave after halfway to beat the traffic, that’s awesome to be able to leave the track in advance and get down the road and get in position for the next race weekend.”

In addition to Con/Span, the design-build team for the tunnel project includes the prime contractor, the Haskell Co., the engineer of record, HNTB, and BridgeTek, the local provider of Con/Span Bridge Systems.

A better world

Initial construction on the infield commenced in July, and the excavation for the tunnel began in early August. In October, the 86 6-ft-long precast arch units will be installed. The precast structure will sit on a cast-in-place slab foundation with integrated cast-in-place pedestal walls. These pedestal walls, which are approximately 8 ft tall, will help to achieve the required vertical clearance. Once the structure is set, the joints between the precast units will be sealed, waterproofing will be applied, lighting will be installed in the tunnel and the backfilling process will begin.

Haskell Co. Project Director David Pupkiewicz remarked, “The precast tunnel solution was chosen because it provided a quick, cost-effective answer for this challenging project. We were familiar with the system from their previous track projects at the Kansas Speedway, Lowes Motor Speedway, Chicagoland and the Nashville Superspeedway. Because of the extremely short time frame for this project, we needed a precast solution.”

“Without a doubt, this is one of the most expansive and aggressive projects at Daytona International Speedway,” said DIS President Robin Braig. “Our goal has always been to make ‘The World Center of Racing’ unique and fan friendly. Our new amenities make it just that for our fans, officials, competitors and sanctioning bodies.”

In addition to the new tunnel, the speedway renovation includes:

  • New NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series garages;
  • A uniquely designed Fan Zone that offers a variety of entertainment as well as roof-top viewing of the new NASCAR Nextel Cup and NASCAR Busch Series garage areas and action on the track;
  • Waterfront specialty vehicle parking area with premium and standard specialty vehicle parking spots as well as waterfront docks, activity zones, playgrounds and an exclusive community center; and
  • New Gatorade Victory Lane where fans can now also be part of the victory celebration.
About the author: 
Information provided by Con/Span Bridge Systems, Dayton, Ohio.
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