Bristol Track Preparing For Dirt Races

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The world's fastest half-mile is becoming the messiest.

This week, workers at Bristol Motor Speedway are dumping 1,400 truckloads of dirt - more than 25,000 tons - onto the oval, asphalt track in preparation for two dirt races next month.

"It's attracting attention because we're taking a perfectly good Winston Cup track and turning it into a dirt track," said speedway spokesperson Wayne Estes. "Putting this much dirt on 36-degree banks is a pretty radical step."

The 147,000-seat speedway is the site of two annual NASCAR Winston Cup races. The owners wanted to host dirt-racing events, which are growing in popularity, but didn't want to build a separate dirt track.

They decided to try using the current track, but weren't sure how to best apply and remove the dirt.

They tried a layer of biodegradable sealer, then two kinds of fabric, even straw. But they found that a layer of sawdust under the dirt worked best.

Workers started covering the track Monday, dumping sections with sawdust and raking it to several inches deep. Truck loads of thick, clay dirt were then be dumped over the sawdust and smoothed to depths varying from less than a foot to 3 feet deep.

The slope of the banks will shift to about 22 degrees. The dirt is thick enough to stay on the track, but workers will water it periodically to keep it moist and intact, Estes said.

The dirt came free from a landowner developing his property.

"It has a high clay content, which is perfect for what we're doing," Estes said. "Not only was it good clay, but it turned out to be a mile down the road."

The Hav-A-Tampa series late model stock cars will race June 2-3, and the World of Outlaws open-wheeled sprint cars will race June 9-10.

Removing the dirt will take about two to three weeks followed by a pressure washing. Estes said the speedway will return to normal in time for the Aug. 25-26 Winston Cup race.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2000

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