the leadership of George Bruggenthies, the track President, America's
greatest road racing facility just keeps on getting better. Already
the most popular circuit with drivers and fans, Road America recently
completed a number of important behind-the-scenes improvements, that not
only will make the track safer, but will also give corner workers and safety
crews access to better information, faster.
CCTV and communications
Road America has installed a new closed-circuit TV surveillance system that
offers a view of about 95 percent of the 4-mile track from one seat in race
control. There are 16 cameras right now. Each corner has a stationary camera
looking upstream and a pan/zoom/tilt camera next to it that looks
downstream. If they see something upstream, they can zoom in on it with the
The cameras are supported by a fiber-optic network communications backbone
they installed last year, stated George Bruggenthies, the track President.
The fiber network has the capability of supporting a variety of other
services including a communication system for track and corner workers
The computerized surveillance system has the capability to record and play
back everything seen by every camera for up to 72 hours. Their intent is to
eventually put a signal (green/yellow/red) light at all the flagging
stations so corner workers can be a bit further back out of harms way. The
lights would be controlled by race control.
Today the corner workers are trying to flag with one hand, and talk on the
radio with the other. Now they would just have to use the radio. The
fiber-optic network is also for broadcast TV. The TV companies now have
plugins for their digital cameras. You can do HDTV broadcasts instead of
dragging numerous miles of cable all around the track. It also supports the
public address system that goes all around the track.
Road America has built a $30,000 mini-ambulance on a modified club car golf
cart chassis. "It's a highly Basic Life Support unit stated George
Bruggenthies, the track President. It has all the capabilities of an
ambulance, but an ambulance weights 9,000 pounds and has big dual wheels.
The gas engined mini has raised ground
clearance, increased suspension travel and aggressive all-terrain tires and
locking rear differential. Conventional ambulances can't get into a lot of
areas stated Bruggenthies. This unit can get up and down hills and get to
the more rural parts of the facility, or it can be stationed at 'The kink'
right behind the barriers, for example.
The Turn 5
Moves barriers, adds traps The Road America track has moved the concrete barriers back in turn
five, drivers right, for improved safety. They have added several large
gravel traps and have gone so far as to plow the traps in a specific
direction in order to slows a spinning car or fallen bike rider better.
The Kink is an area of concern because it is
very high-speed (190-mph for a CART Champ Car) and the outside wall is right
next to the edge of the track. The wall can't be moved due to the property
line and a railroad track just beyond the turn. Road America is drawing up
plans for an optional configuration for The Kink (if this happens, one of
the most exciting and historical turns in racing will be lost forever).
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