You don’t know til you ask

The world may be stranger than you imagine

Blog Entry May 27, 2014
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I couldn’t imagine why racetracks didn’t use porous pavement.


Let me back up a couple of steps.


If you’re like me, you’re often frustrated because TV reporters don’t ask the questions you would ask. I’m not talking about the crime reports or the natural disasters that take up most of the news broadcast time. Those TV guys just can’t resist anything with fleeing victims, but that’s a different issue. I’m talking about reporting on real issues—like auto racing.


Imagine my frustration after watching countless races in the rain with puddles forming on the racetrack and spray from the cars ahead blinding the drivers behind.


The TV experts always complain about the complications and dangers of racing in the rain, but they never mention the possibility of porous pavement. Porous asphalt would let the water drain through the racetrack, eliminating puddles and rooster tails of spray. I thought it was an obvious solution for increased safety. So why don’t racetracks use porous pavement? Maybe you know, but I didn’t.


I’m writing an article about racetrack paving for the June issue of ROADS & BRIDGES, so I asked my expert why they don’t build racetracks that drain water. He gave two important answers:


  • Asphalt with gaps for drainage isn’t strong enough to withstand the extreme shear forces exerted by race cars as they accelerate, corner and brake; and
  • The bits of rubber that tear off the tires during a race tend to plug up the asphalt pores and soon prevent drainage.


Reality turned out to be more complicated than I thought. But now I know.


To read the rest of my story about racetrack paving, look for the June issue of ROADS & BRIDGES.

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