NASCAR Introduces Faster Track Drying At Daytona

Daytona Beach, Fla. – Track drying is a time-consuming process and a boring one for spectators and television viewers and when the Daytona 500 was plagued by rain a year ago, NASCAR chairman and chief executive officer Brian France decided it was time to speed up the process. Calling upon NASCAR’s Research and Development Center staff, he tasked them to develop a quicker track-drying system. Working tirelessly for some eight months, they came up with Air Titan, a system that pushes water off the racing surface.

Should it rain during Speedweeks, Air Titan will make its debut with the intent of accelerating the process. The goal is to reduce drying time by 80 per cent but that number will take a while to attain. The newly introduced system is regarded as Phase 1 of a multi-step project development.

Using compressed air, Air Titan efficiently and reliably pushes water off the racing surface and onto the apron where vacuum trucks will remove the reminder of the moisture. Jet dryers will follow each Air Titan vehicle, drying excess water that remains on the track.

“NASCAR is really excited to officially introduce our track drying technology,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations, said during a news conference this week. “As everyone knows, the time it takes to dry a track and the impact is has on out fans and those watching on television is why Brian France tasked our R&D Center to come up with a solution to reducing drying time.”

O’Donnell said today’s technology was introduced by Roger Penske in 1976 and since the world of technology and innovation has evolved considerably since then, a fresh approach is being pursued.

The R&D Center worked with external companies along the away, calling upon specialists to assist with the development. No cost estimates were provided, but it was stated that the developers burned the midnight oil to accomplish their mission. At this point in time, Air Titan is only for use at Daytona but as time and development progress, its use will likely be shared with other venues.

Describing the set-up of the equipment, O’Donnell said there will be two identical sets of equipment on each side of the track, and each one will do a complete pass of the track. Compressors will blast air at a high rate of speed through hoses to air-tight modules, which, in turn, will blow highly pressure sheets of air over the track surface and pushing the water down to the track apron. On the apron, a regenerative air-vacuum truck will absorb the water and five jet dryers will be follow each truck.

Air Titan is untested and can be regarded as a beginning point in the evolution of track-drying. A dress rehearsal or dry run was conducted a day after the announcement, and a small army gathered to make it happen. Thereafter, water was poured on the track and the system performed as expected.

Said NASCAR official Tate Austin, “The tests went well as they did in a November test, and we are happy with the results. NASCAR R&D staff and the competition organization along with Daytona officials were present on Wednesday, and a lot of people have worked very hard.”

A day later, rain doused Daytona and Air Titan was put into action, working in the wet conditions.

Air Titan staff continues to be optimistic about the new system and while no one wants to see it rain during a race in the days ahead, there’s a high degree of curiosity among participants, fans, the television networks and others eager to see how efficiently the system works.

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