Daytona repaving hits overdrive When project manager Bill Braniff was asked if he could see light at the end of the Daytona International Speedway repaving tunnel, he just laughed. "Yes, and I know that light is not a train," Braniff joked Thursday, standing near the exit of Daytona's pit road.
Braniff is senior director of construction at North American Testing Company, a subsidiary of International Speedway Corp., which owns Daytona and 12 other major racing facilities in North America.
On Saturday, DIS president Joie Chitwood III plans on giving a news conference at Homestead-Miami Speedway to provide a detailed review of the Daytona repave project for media attending NASCAR's Championship Weekend. At this point, no test dates have been announced for December. NASCAR and Grand-Am have tests scheduled in January.
Braniff said the repave mission's pace has gone from a canter to an all-out sprint this week, with Lane Construction and several subcontractors putting the Speedway pieces back together again.
Work is being done at multiple areas of the track, and the schedule has become so frantic that Lane Construction imported a second paving crew from its Lakeland office.
The primary paving "strike force" is concentrating on pit road, while the new construction team is laying asphalt in the apron area between Turns 3 and 4. Braniff estimated the work force at the Speedway on Thursday was around 80 people, doing everything from paving to reinstalling stadium lights to planting sod.
"All the paving on the backstretch -- the racing surface, apron, skid pad and chicane -- is done," he said. "That's all finished." The majority of the steel and foam energy reduction barrier has been put back in place, with new foam blocks separating the steel plate from the concrete retaining walls.
The catch fence in Turns 3 and 4 is race-ready, and the stadium lights are going back up. "Over in Turns 1 and 2, you can see the catch-fence posts and cable, and in the next week, you will see the chain-link fabric going up," Braniff said.
"We will be working on pit road through next week. The Turn 4 tunnels should be finished in a couple of days. We are buttoning it up and getting it done." Daytona's iconic twin tunnels have been rejuvenated by Coleman-Goodemote Construction, a local company. The work pace will slow next week because of Thanksgiving. Braniff said the out-of-town workers, many from Texas, will fly home to spend the holiday with their families.
Many of Lane's strike-force group has been here working nonstop since July to meet the company's Dec. 31 deadline.
The construction team will have company next week, as the Daytona Turkey Run is scheduled for Wednesday through next Saturday in the Speedway infield. The annual Turkey Run brings hundreds of exotic cars and thousands of spectators. "We will be glad to see them," Braniff said of next week's event. "They will have plenty of room to work with."
Braniff said the pit road wearing course, the top layer of asphalt, won't be installed until after Thanksgiving.
Representatives from Grand-Am Road Racing tested the chicane, and Braniff said they offered only "positive comments." "We are encouraged by that, in addition to David Ragan's feedback, it's good for the contractor's morale to hear those types of things," Braniff said. "It also validates things we observed during the construction process." Daytona Beach News Journal
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