With its wide, sweeping turns, more than 200 mph speeds, aged asphalt and famed two and three wide racing, Atlanta Motor Speedway is a favorite track among both the fans and drivers in NASCAR's elite divisions.
It is not by luck however, that great racing and AMS go hand-in-hand. Countless hours are spent every year ensuring drivers will have a nearly identical surface to race on twice a year.
"We perform intense maintenance to our track every year to ensure a consistent surface for the drivers," said Wes Harris, senior vice-president of development of Speedway Motorsports Inc. "Some tracks use an injection wand that seals the asphalt surface cracks, keeping moisture out. We seal our track by hand. It is more expensive and labor intensive, but necessary to achieve the optimal end result. The surface is what makes the racing at Atlanta phenomenal."
Since Glenn "Fireball" Roberts took the checkered flag in the first race at AMS, the Dixie 300 on July 31, 1960, Atlanta Motor Speedway has undergone numerous track resurfacing projects, the most recent in 1997.
Over time as the asphalt ages, seams develop and water penetration in the seams can undermine the smooth surface in a short amount of time if they are not properly taken care of. Crews at AMS use Dow Corning 890 Self-Leveling Silicone Joint Sealant to seal the seams in the track surface. The Dow Corning product stands up to the extreme temperatures and pressures a race car creates. The silicone sealant also expands and contracts with rising and falling temperatures.
The asphalt on a race track and the asphalt on the road we drive on share a similar compound of large and small stones and liquid asphalt. The two asphalts differ mainly in their chemical compound, with racing asphalt containing an added polymer that increases durability under extreme conditions.
To seal the entire 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway track surface, a crew of five men will work for three weeks annually. It is this effort, despite being cost and labor intensive, that creates the key element in a successful weekend; great racing.
"The track surface and the great racing it produces is the cornerstone of a super event weekend, "said Harris. "We will do everything in our power to ensure the drivers will have the same consistent surface race after race, year after year."
To see the results of Atlanta Motor Speedway's track preservation efforts in person, fans can come watch an entire weekend of racing, showcasing the Golden Corral 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race on March 19. For tickets to the March 17-19 race weekend, call (877) 9-AMS-TIX, (770) 946-4211, or click here: Purchase Tickets