Officials at Kansas Speedway disclosed this week that the 10-year-old race track will undergo a major facelift to enhance the racing conditions and expand the facility's attractiveness to additional types of motorsports.
The work will not begin, however, until after the Spring 2012 NASCAR race weekend, and is expected to be completed in time for the Sprint Cup Hollywood Casino 400 next October. Major renovation work is planned, including repaving, reconfiguring and rebanking the entire 1.5-mile existing track surface and putting in a new infield road course for Grand-Am Series road racing.
The lifecycle for an auto track surface is generally about 20 years, Kansas Speedway officials said, but the extreme cold and wet weather conditions we've had the last several winters has advanced that normal timetable and made the repairs necessary now.
"We've had the worst weather in the country as it relates to asphalt," Speedway president Pat Warren told Randy Covitz of The Kansas City Star. "All you have to do is look around at the highways and streets in our city to understand that. It's even worse when you've got a high-performance asphalt track that doesn't have any opportunity in the winter for cars or anything to warm it up."
Part of the repaving project will involve the addition of variable banking in the turns on the tri-oval racetrack. The current corners at Kansas Speedway are banked at 15-degrees. When the resurfacing is completed, the new track configuration will start out at 18 degrees and increase to 20 degrees around the turns. Warren told The Kansas City Star "that will allow the cars to run different lines around the track at different degrees of banking, which increases better side-by-side racing."
Warren said that some drivers prefer tracks that have aged with regular use. "If we just repaved what we have now," he said, "it would really create a challenge as it relates to the quality of the racing.
"But going back in with the variable banking will really help, because you won't have the issues we had in the first couple of years we were open when we really had a one-groove racetrack."
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when the renovation work will commence because NASCAR has not yet released its 2012 Sprint Cup schedule. This year's spring NASCAR races (Camping World trucks and Sprint Cup) were the weekend of June 4-5, but Warren believes next year's spring date will be earlier, either the last weekend in April or the first weekend in May. Those dates previously belonged to Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and historic Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, both owned by International Speedway Corp., the same company that owns Kansas Speedway.
Kansas Speedway officials will not say what the anticipated cost of project would be. What they did say was that it would be a significant amount. As a reference point, when Daytona International Speedway, a 2.5-mile super speedway track, was repaved last year after the season-opening Daytona 500 Sprint Cup race, the cost was around $20 million. The Daytona venue also is owned by ISC.