About 30 miles east of Nashville, Tenn., on a section of Interstate 840, lays one of the most interesting concrete marvels in the world. The Nashville Super Speedway debuted in 2001.
The guitar-shaped trophy for winning a race at this track is one of the most sought after prizes in the racing world today. The track itself boasts a 1.33-mile, D-shaped concrete oval with a 1.8-mile course located in the infield for other events such as motorcycle and car club promotions.
When the project was announced, I knew it would encompass several types of mixes and delivery challenges, and would take a great effort from all of us to make the project profitable. For two days, we met with the contractor to gather the relevant details.
The schedule rivaled anything we had previously attempted. Because it was located halfway between two of our plants, we decided not to erect a plant onsite. After another two days of visiting the site and showing off our plants' facilities and equipment, we landed the purchase order and started working on the mix designs.
The deliveries to the structures and buildings were normal, and with six-wheel-drive, front-discharge mixers, we didn't have much trouble with the foundations. The footings for the safety walls were another story. When we started, we had to drive up the track at an angle and move several times. This wasn't very efficient for anyone, so we got our heads together and came up with a different strategy.
We talked them into discharging from the top of the site, and where we couldn't reach the forms, they used a concrete pump. The rest of the project went very smoothly. Along with the footing mixes, we also had flowable fill, mud slabs, red dye concrete for the electricians, paving mixes for the flat surfaces, and even some high early-strengths for concrete placed in the colder months. We used these mixes in the grandstand areas also.
We provided several thousand yards of concrete for the project. But the most interesting part of the job for me was watching the paving contractor as he provided the labor, equipment, and materials for the track itself. Watching the paving machine move around the track at the necessary angles was a treat.
They erected a portable plant near the track and used the infield to store materials. Our quality control personnel worked closely with their own, and the team effort made the project a memorable one.
Often during this time, I drove on the track before and after the paving materials were placed. Being a NASCAR fan, I often wondered how it felt to drive on the angles like the pros. My SUV really wasn't a good vehicle to try this with, as I felt like it might tumble down the track at any minute. After circling the track a couple of times, I had a newfound respect for the guys who do this at 200 mph on any given afternoon.
The day we had our last jobsite meeting after the project was finished, I drove over to the north side of the track and looked out over the project. You could see it all from this vantage point. The grandstand and safety wall construction, the paving for the RV pads, and all of the other pieces of this construction puzzle were in place.
There was a cool breeze that afternoon, and it was almost like the drivers who had gone to that great racetrack in the sky were passing through, blessing this site for those who would race here in the future.