Bristol Speedway Puts Penhall Company in the Driver's Seat
Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, TN is known as the Fastest Half Mile track on the NASCAR circuit. In 2007, owner Bruton Smith decided the track deserved a facelift. The new surface included progressive banking in the corners allowing the cars in the outside lane to keep up with the inside lane even though the lap was 500 feet longer. This made for great side-by-side racing, lots of passing and very few incidents. Unfortunately fans historically came to Bristol to see aggressive driving, cars getting shoved out of the way and lots of bent sheet metal.
In early April SMI (Speedway Motorsports Inc.) reached out to JR Labor with Penhall Company in Phoenix, AZ. to see if we would help them modify the outside lane with our grinding machines. After much discussion with SMI, we accepted the challenge of removing up to 1 ½ inches of concrete pavement on a 28 degree slope.
David Tomlinson, Shop Manager for Penhall Company in Atlanta, GA. took the lead on the engineering side and after two weeks had a machine and a method ready for trial. Our efforts paid off when the G-38 grinder was successfully maneuvered to the top of the slope and with only minor adjustments, completed the first of several passes.
Unlike most projects, this one came with a unique challenge, keeping it all a secret. In the NASCAR community, anytime a track undergoes a significant change it creates a lot of buzz. Mr. Smith decided to let the "buzz" generate media hype, bringing a considerable amount of attention to his track and the planned modifications. For three weeks after a preliminary press conference announcing "changes are coming", Bruton and his staff of engineers and managers held a track-side press conference to unveil the actual changes. The Penhall Company crew and equipment were center-stage as ESPN and SPEED Channel covered the live press conference.
Now that the hype has passed and the camera crews are gone, the work continues. The project is on schedule and should be completed within the month of May. SMI and Penhall Company have worked together on several tracks including Charlotte, Dallas, Las Vegas and Atlanta.