Over the years, Colony Construction, Inc. has paved multiple types of tracks at various schools, as well as a high-speed training track for the Virginia State Police. While not a runway at a large airport, placing asphalt on any type of track is not considered an easy paving project given the tight tolerances and specialized mixes.
During 2018, Colony had the opportunity to pave three unique tracks – Nottoway High School Track, Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) and Richmond International Raceway (RIR). The track at Nottoway High School was a team effort for the paving crew and subcontractors. Work involved milling the existing track surface, crack filling and sealing, installation of paving fabric and finally, the rubberized asphalt surface. Due to the variable existing track elevations, extensive surveying and an experienced screed man were critical to meet the specified high school track standards.
The FASTC project included a 40,000-ton high-speed track as well as a simulated highway network. Imagine skid and ram pads, mock urban grids and loops, connector roads, parking areas as well as ramps to simulate interstate on and off exits. Not a simple mill and fill or overlay project, precise work was needed on pavements designed to simulate foreign towns and cities.
RIR Infield Redevelopment Project
While not the largest project in terms of tonnage, paving at Richmond International Raceway provided challenges and opportunities to think outside the box. In November 2017 construction of a pedestrian tunnel at Turn 1 began at Richmond International Raceway. Fans would have greater access to an enhanced infield to provide a more interactive sports experience. Once the pedestrian tunnel was in place, 500 tons of asphalt would be placed back on Turn 1 and Pit Road. Finally, another 6,800 tons of asphalt needed to be installed once the infield renovations were complete. The first step was to have Colony’s paving mix designs approved for installation on a NASCAR track. This is not your standard SUPERPAVE™ mix, but one that must withstand race cars going fast and turning left.
The Toyota Owners 400 race was scheduled for Saturday, April 21, 2018. Paving operations began on March 6, after a very wet winter to start the year. To meet the race deadline, paving would have to be pieced together in smaller amounts to preserve any aggregate base ready for pavement from being saturated during the rainy season. The track paving needed to be completed 30 days before the race to ensure it was completely cured and ready for the green flag.
Colony had never worked on a NASCAR race track, and safety was its primary concern. The company wanted to make certain the equipment used on the slope in Turn 1 did not roll over or slide. Extra time and effort were spent to ensure its men and equipment could perform the work safely and to a high standard of quality. They went as far as building a replica of the track slope using recycled asphalt material at its Powhatan asphalt plant. The maximum slope of the replica and the actual track was 13 percent.
A representative of the International Speedway Corporation was on site during the test track paving, where the first two lifts of asphalt were paved with the same depths needed on the actual track.
Once track paving began at RIR, Colony paved the first lift with Open Grade Mix and the second lift with Intermediate Mix 19.0A. Both mixes were paved starting at the top of the slope in Turn 1 and ending back to the infield at the bottom. Transfer joints were offset on each lift with a 2’ bench joint, making each asphalt lift 4’ longer than the previous one. Colony used the Weiler E1250B Material Transfer Machine (MTV) at the bottom of the track which only had a 4 percent to 6 percent slope to safely transfer material up the track and into the asphalt hopper. In between lifts, they had a surveyor shoot grades and profile milled as needed to keep the grades as close to perfect as possible. The next two lifts were a leveling course, and final surface paved horizontally with the track using Surface Mix 9.5A and following the same path the race cars would drive. Using the 8-ton hopper insert extension from the MTV into the asphalt paver hopper, Colony was able to load asphalt at the bottom of the track and drive it up making one full horizontal 2” deep pass on the track. Colony’s CAT AP-1055F Paver was fully extended at 19’ 6”. The existing horizontal joints were 20’ wide, so the company used auger extensions to gain the extra 6” needed to keep the joints consistent. Before using the Hamm HD 120 VV roller, they waited until the next pass of asphalt was laid so the material would be confined and would not push down the track. Once paving was complete, a “track bond” was installed with large paint rollers to bind the new asphalt and create a seamless paved appearance. Extra time and effort paid off as they were able to pave a high-quality surface on the company’s first and only attempt in Turn 1. Getting the track correct the first time helped them meet the completion date for the project despite a very rainy start to the paving season.
Coming to the Checkered Flag
Every year brings new opportunities to the asphalt industry, and 2018 was the year of the tracks for Colony Construction. Each track project was unique, and the experience and knowledge gained will be transferred to other track projects as well as work performed for VDOT and other facility owners.