IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix transcends potholes

Mid-race pavement patching delays Scott Dixon victory

Concrete News IndyCar, Detroit Free Press June 04, 2012
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The organizers of the IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix had to make fast road repairs on Sunday June 3. Sections of the street racetrack were being pulled out and thrown up into the crowd and the race cars.


About 40 laps into the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, the drivers noticed long strips of black sealant that had been used to fill seams in the concrete streets were pulling up. The suction created by the race cars’ aerodynamics and the stickiness of the racing tires was more than the sealant could withstand.


One chunk got stuck under the front of the car of Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe. He could not turn his car and crashed violently into a tire barrier at one of the circuit’s 14 turns.


A red flag was waved on lap 45, and the race halted for repairs to the pavement. Bud Denker, chairman of the event, said there were four significant areas of failed pavement: a 20-ft-long, 6-in.-wide, 2-4 in.-deep crack at Turn 6; a 30-ft crevice at Turn 7; and about 60 ft of cracks at Turn 10.


The crevices were filled with a concrete filler that dries in about 30 minutes, according to IndyCar. The Detroit Free Press said it was the same synthetic rubber substance used to patch the Daytona Speedway during the Daytona 500 last year. The crews actually ran out of the filler, and Denker received a police escort back to his warehouse to retrieve more.


After a two-hour delay, the race was restarted and shortened from its scheduled total of 90 laps to a total of 60 laps. The race was won by Scott Dixon, followed by his teammate Dario Franchitti, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Oriol Servia.


Later, Denker talked to reporters in the media center with synthetic rubber polymer on his hands and clothing. He was so determined to complete the race and leave the audience with a good impression of Detroit that he helped do the pavement patching himself.

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