Sunday, April 13, 2014

Supercross Dirt

As the Seattle Supercross approached I had been wondering how they handled the dirt and how long it took to setup and teardown a track. This Seattle Times piece answers a lot of those questions.

 It takes a village, plus a fleet of trucks and earthmovers, to get the work done in roughly a seven-day span. The dirt director (Dave Allen, based in Illinois), a traveling crew of six dirt specialists, a 14-member operations team and, when the last race is run, around 60 local temp workers who assist with the teardown.

“We’re staged in a corner, waiting for a call from TV that they have cut off the air,” Phend said. “As soon as we have that call, we’re on the floor.”

But where did all that dirt come from? Where does it go?

The Supercross tour owns the dirt and has storage deals in each city. Seattle’s dirt is stored in Federal Way and, like most cities, is shared with the Monster Jam truck tour.
“It’s been the same dirt for many, many years, way before I came here,” said Phend, in his seventh year. “There’s silty mixture in this stuff. It’s got to have come out of a riverbed. Softer dirt tends to break down.”

“This year we’re pretty lucky because the weather isn’t as bad as many years past. We got three of the lanes built Monday and got them covered with plastic before rain hit it. It’s in better shape than it’s ever been right now.”

Track builds are fast and furious. At CenturyLink, the process began last Saturday morning when the field was covered with polyethylene plastic (Visqueen). A layer of interlocking vinyl panels went on top of that.

Next, two layers of plywood. Then a 5-inch layer of ground asphalt  “road base" to keep the track from becoming a bog if rain falls.

Finally about 500 truckloads of dirt, about 1.5 million pounds, are offloaded. Bulldozers and frontloaders (often eight or more) mold it into bumps, humps and tight turns. Then come 750 foam lane barriers, enough to fill three semis, plus a big finish-line video display and several crowd-wowing, fire-spewing towers.

No comments: