Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kansas Speedway Tour - 5/13/2014

The May event for our KCPL Power Partners Club was a tour of the Kansas Speedway.  The Speedway is located about 15 miles west of Kansas City on I-70 in a rapidly developing area called The Legends.  In addition to the Speedway, The Legends is home to the Kansas City T-Bone minor league baseball, Sporting KC Soccer Club, the Schlitterbahn Water Park, the Hollywood Casino, and many retail stores, hotels, and restaurants.

The day was cold and windy but at least we escaped the rain.  We had about 30+ members of our retirement club join us for the tour and lunch afterwards in The Legends.  Our tour followed an entire weekend of NASCAR racing at the track.  It was amazing how clean the track grounds were after the huge crowds.  The only reminder of the racing was the black tire tracks on the asphalt that were left after the burnout by Jeff Gordon as a part of his victory celebration.

We took the elevator to the 4th level to get a better view of the grounds outside the track.  On race day, the grass fields in the photo would be covered with parked cars as far as the eye can see.  Trams help shuttle people from the parking lot to the track.  If my memory is accurate, there is room for about 35,000 vehicles.

This is the view from inside one of the luxury suites at the track.  There are three levels of suites above the grandstands.

Our tour guide took advantage of the comfort and quiet of the suite to give all the details about the track before going outside.  The track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a 2.6 mile road course utilizing the track and the infield.  The area inside the oval is large enough to hold the Chief's Arrowhead football stadium and the KC Royal's Kauffman Stadium plus the parking lot between them without touching the track.  The entire complex covers 1,200 acres.  The seating capacity is 72,000+ with many more watching from RV's parked in the infield and around the outside of the track.  Space is available for about 300 RV's.

In the infield, there is a gas station for the race cars.  They pump 119 octane fuel that is 15% ethanol.

The race leader tower.

There are four huge garages in the infield.  The track can accommodate multiple types of racing vehicles simultaneously on a big racing weekend.  This last weekend the were the NASCAR racers and trucks competing.

The cars in the photo belong to the Richard Petty racing school/experience and reside at the track all year long.  You can rent a car or take a driving course with an instructor at the track.

The Petty cars only have about 600 hp while the professional racers have about 850 hp.  The car below is a Toyota but I didn't see anything under the hold that looked like it might actually be found in a Camry.

The cars are really nothing but a tubular frame with wheels and a fiberglass shell that sort of looks like a car.  The interior is functional but not pretty.  I would love to drive one but I don't think I could ever get inside.  I would be very comfortable driving the car, if I fit, since I am a former Corvette driver (400 hp) and I confess to having seen 140 mph more than once.  As a matter of fact, I was clocked on police radar at 140 mph in a 35 mph speed zone.....but that is another story from my youth.

The tire have an inner and outer inflation chambers.  If you look close, you can see two valve stems.  These act as a sort of run flat tire only so the driver can slow down enough to avoid crashing when he has a flat. 

This truck is used to dry the track after a rain.

This is a vacuum truck and, as you imagined, is used to clean the track before races and after crashes.

We are on our way to Victory Lane.

The tour guide was great.

A group photo.

The banking on the track was about 9 degrees on the straightaway. 

The tram was much needed because of the size of the facility.

The Steel and Foam Energy Reduction System (SAFER barrier) at Kansas Speedway is made of steel tubes and pads of energy-absorbing foam attached to the track's existing concrete retainer walls between Turns 1 and 2, between Turns 3 and 4 and along most of the frontstretch. The total 1.28 miles of SAFER walls around Kansas Speedway is the longest length at any of the tracks with SAFER walls on the NASCAR circuit. The SAFER wall at Kansas Speedway is about 40 inches high, and extends about 30 inches from the wall. Each SAFER wall section consists of five steel tubes stacked vertically. Closed cell foam is stacked between the steel tubes and the old retaining wall to create energy-absorbing pylons.

The banking on the turns were much steeper.  I think I heard 40 degrees but that sounds like an awful lot.  I know it was hard to climb and even harder to come back down from.

Lunch after the tour was at the Yard House.  They have a huge selection of beers on tap.  I heard one person say that there were over 100 different beers available.  The food and fellowship was great.

Another fantastic day.

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