Less than eight months ago, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France tasked the team at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., with developing a means to shorten the delay caused by rain. The reasons for the initiative were many, but at the top of the list: Fans, whether in the grandstands or watching on television, should not have to wait long before racing resumes following a downpour.
NASCAR announced this week Phase 1 of France’s vision, introducing the Air Titan™ track drying system that will debut during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway. This innovative technology, steeped in science and created by the NASCAR R&D Center, will reduce track drying time, improve the racing product and enhance the fan experience – starting this week and including The Sprint Unlimited on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.
"In a short amount of time, our talented team at the NASCAR R&D Center imagined, designed and built the Air Titan, an innovative device that will dramatically improve the race-viewing experience for our fans," France said of the initiative’s first phase. "With its far-reaching potential and impact, we believe the Air Titan is a big win for the motorsports industry, and eventually will enhance many surface cleaning and drying industries as well."
With the ultimate goal of reducing track-drying time by up to 80%, the NASCAR R&D team took an advanced scientific approach during the production of the Air Titan™. Using compressed air, the Air Titan™ efficiently and reliably pushes water off of the racing surface and onto the apron where vacuum trucks will remove the remainder of the moisture. Jet dryers will follow each Air Titan™, drying any excess water that remains on the racing surface.
As part of the Air Titan’s™ testing process, NASCAR enlisted the expertise of the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) in Auburn, Ala., International Speedway Corporation’s track construction group, Racing Surface Technologies and QualPro Inc. Additionally, Elgin Sweeper Company, Sullair and Ring Power CAT also provided equipment during the testing, and will be part of the track-drying process at Daytona during Speedweeks.
For the immediate future, jet dryers and vacuum trucks will continue to be used during track-drying efforts. Over time, the innovations of the Air Titan™ will lessen the carbon footprint of track drying, decreasing both emissions and noise pollution. The next evolution in the innovative technology will be to optimize the power source.