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Bad weather can hamper Daytona repaving
2004 Daytona Reconstruction
The last time Daytona International Speedway undertook a massive summer renovation project, it did so against the advice of the icon Bill France Jr.

The plan was to tear down and replace the garages, reconstruct a portion of the infield into a Fan Zone, dig a huge tunnel under the first turn and perform other work. It called for the project to be done during hurricane season and France was adamantly opposed. But for the first time, the board of International Speedway Corp. overruled the founding family scion and the work began.

It turns out 2004 was the year three hurricanes raked East Central Florida, seriously impacting the project with 3 million gallons of water filling the tunnel, among other things. But the project was completed on time, although with plenty of angst.

So excuse speedway President Robin Braig if he's nervous heading into the estimated $20 million re-paving of the 2.5-mile speedway that is set to begin July 5 and wrap up by Jan. 1.

And understand if he wishes for nothing more for Christmas than an early completion.

"I'll take that, that would be a wonderful Christmas present to see this place done, and the catchfence back up and the SAFER barrier back in and the lights back on and the lights aimed in the right direction," Braig said.

The job involves much more than ripping up the old pavement and putting down a new layer. Light poles, catchfencing and SAFER barriers need to be removed to accommodate the paving equipment and then put back. Grass on the backstretch needs to be replaced by pavement and SAFER barriers installed along the inside wall along the backstretch and Pit Road needs to be widened by 14 feet.

Oh, and yes, acres of new pavement need to be put down to exacting standards.

"This would have been the only window," Braig said. "We need the temperatures (for the asphalt to cure), we couldn't have done it in February and come out and get it ready by July."

And the work needs to be completed before Jan. 1 to accommodate testing for various series and for tire manufacturer Goodyear to produce 6,000 tires for NASCAR's Speedweeks.

If for some reason work is delayed and Goodyear is not given sufficient time to test and later produce the new tires, it will fall back on the compound used at Daytona's sister track Talladega, Braig said.

So it's obvious the challenges are myriad, but so are the consequences of not re-paving.

"The most important part are our fans and our TV viewers," Braig said. "What we did to Fox on their television viewing and our fans who had to bear through that two-hour delay (for a pothole during February's Daytona 500), we just can't risk it.

"We're the World Center of Racing, it's (Daytona 500) our Super Bowl. So we're going to do it now." Florida Now

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