Vegas track build going smoothly
Work on the 2.44-mile Vegas Grand Prix temporary street course is on schedule and showing signs of progress around downtown Las Vegas. Like watching a child take his first steps, spectators can now see the course taking shape with the addition of barriers and grandstands along Grand Central Parkway adjacent to the World Market Center.
With the 10-man track construction crew working from 7 p.m. until the wee hours of the morning, the layout is also drawing the attention of onlookers. The April 6-8 event featuring the Champ Car World Series, Champ Car Atlantic and Historic Grand Prix races is already sparking memorable stories nearly four weeks from when the green flag drops.
Block and fencing has started to take shape not only along Grand Central Parkway but also along Main Street, Bonneville Avenue and Ogden Avenue.
“We're doing just fine,” said Circuit Manager Chris Kneifel, a former open-wheel racer who has been building tracks since 2001. “We're doing our best to play in the sandbox together. I’d definitely have to say that we have high marks after week one, and we're going to have an even better week this week.”
Even more impressive is the fact that the construction in the first week has had little or no effect on the normally heavy traffic in downtown Las Vegas.
“That’s a big deal,” Kneifel said of the smooth construction process. “Working at night, we’ve been able to greatly minimize any disruption of traffic.”
Ironically, Kneifel and his fellow workers were awake until the early morning hours after continuous meetings leading up to the construction. Now, their sleep patterns have switched since they are arriving home at the same time they were leaving home only a few weeks ago.
Even better yet, the recent warm weather has been a pleasant turnaround from the colder nights when construction started.
As Kneifel pointed out, “We were freezing our butts off when we started. Now, it's beautiful outside during the early morning hours. We’re definitely becoming true night owls.”
“If we didn’t love our jobs, we wouldn’t be here,” said Mike Fisher, who is also involved in the construction of tracks in Cleveland, Houston, San Jose and Phoenix. “We want to make sure everything lives up to expectations.”
While construction of the Vegas Grand Prix track certainly offers its share of challenges, Kneifel has confidence knowing the he is surrounded with dedicated personnel.
“We’re going to get there just fine,” he said of the progress. “What we don’t finish today, we'll make up later. I have no question about it.”