Updated:DAYTONA, Fla. — WFTV rode along with crews Wednesday at the Daytona 500 as they were renovating the track, using lasers to scour the new pavement for any imperfections. They found the portions of the track that have been finished are ready for racing.
Parking lots and highways all have variations in the pavement, but the speedway doesn't. Engineers are running lasers over the entire surface of the track and measuring for bumps and dips less than the thickness of a nickel.
Crews are making sure race cars have a surface as smooth as glass when they take the track in January.
Danny James is the mechanical supervisor on the project and floored a van he was in around the finished and on turns three and four. While he drove, lasers mounted on the bumper measured every quarter inch of track surface. They sensed bumps as small as 1/32 of an inch, and sent the information back to an onboard computer.
"The only spec out there that's this tight is only in racetracks. There's nothing on the highway that's this tight at all," James said.
On the finished stretches of track it was rare to find any flaws at all.
"We're going 75, 80 miles an hour around these high banks, less than half of what race car drivers do, and there's not a bump. Not even the tiniest dip or bump in this track surface," James said.
When James finds a flaw, he can grind it out or fill it in.
The standards will make this track twice as smooth as the average highway.
Crews are ahead of schedule for finishing, but not in a rush to just get it done.