NASCAR is one of the most popular motor sports in America. Created in 1948 by Bill France, Sr., NASCAR ran it’s first officially sanctioned “Strictly Stock” race in 1949 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, beginning a quick rise for NASCAR to position itself as one of America’s favorite spectator sports and a multi-billion dollar industry, sanctioning over 1,500 races annually.
Much like the cars have evolved over the decades, the nearly 30 official “Sprint Car” Series tracks have also evolved with time. Track construction varies from location to location. The use of concrete and asphalt in the modern day is common practice for NASCAR track owners. While concrete is typically used in the banking corners, due to the grip of the high speed vehicles crumbling asphalt, blacktop is generally used for the remainder of the tracks. Only two NASCAR tracks are fully concrete.
Commercial paving contractors and asphalt companies have worked with NASCAR and other racing Associations to develop blacktop that will resist the tremendous heat created by the high speed stock cars. While our highways seem to be similar, they are not. The primary differences being smoothness and heat resistance. We typically do no accelerate or slow nearly as quickly or as often as professional drivers in a race. In a turn, a NASCAR stock car literally pushes the asphalt up with the extreme force of the vehicle, which is a main consideration for the use of concrete in the corners of some race tracks.
The need for a smoother surface on tracks than we have on our highways requires a thicker paved surface entirely. Often NASCAR tracks will have multiple layers of paving materials including stones, hot mix asphalt and emulsions then topped with blacktop, carefully smoothed and compacted to nearly 95% density. The reason for this is that a bump or dip at 200 miles an hour could be deadly.
Beginning at Pocono Raceway on June 5, the 2016 Sprint Cup Series kicks off and millions of NASCAR fans will be watching without thought of all it takes to create the tracks on which their favorite NASCAR driver will drive fast and turn left!!