The sight of RVs and fans in the Talladega Superspeedway infield is as iconic as Darrell Waltrip belting out “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity” at the start of a race.
But in recent years, fans had been having a hard time getting in and out of the historic infield since the tunnels were used primarily for team haulers. Instead, fans had to drive across the track to get to the infield, making access impossible while any on-track activity was happening. Wanting to provide the best possible fan experience, the speedway is in the middle of a $50 million redevelopment project to boost its infield amenities, and precast concrete is playing a critical role.
At the heart of the project, named Transformation – the Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar, is a massive 208-foot-long, 28-foot-wide tunnel that can accommodate two vehicles as large as fans’ RVs and team haulers at a time. The tunnel features Contech Engineered Solution’s CON/SPAN arch system, which was manufactured by Oldcastle Infrastructure.
“Having this incredibly large two-lane tunnel will allow fans to go and come with ease in their RVs, which will in turn make their experience here at Talladega the best it can be,” said Russell Branham, Talladega’s public relations director. “The fan experience is something that we have made a priority over the years. The tunnel is the first part of Transformation to be able to get those fans in and out in a timely manner.”
Work began on the tunnel last October, and it will be open for fan use during the triple-header weekend in April. With a tight turnaround, crews turned to precast concrete to ensure the project was completed on time. Ellis Bennett, a project manager with Taylor Corporation, cited the speed of precast as one of the main reasons it was chosen for the tunnel.
“We didn’t have to wait for the slab and walls to be poured before we began pouring the top,” he said. “Time is one of the biggest benefits of precast structures. Also, it is easier to construct curved or circular shapes with precast.”
Contech worked directly with the speedway and Oldcastle to provide the arch system.
“The new CON/SPAN tunnel at Talladega is an outstanding example of how precast’s speed of fabrication and erection make it an ideal choice for race track applications,” said Daniel Wasniak, Contech’s precast bridge director. “Similar CON/SPAN precast tunnels have been used at Daytona International Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.”
Oldcastle Infrastructure produced 35 CON/SPAN arch sections weighing more than 730 tons in total for the tunnel and used two different facilities – one in Newnan, Ga., and one in Stone Mountain, Ga., – to manufacture the pieces in the tight timeline.
“This job was only possible through a collective team effort from both plants,” said Bob Caudle, Oldcastle Infrastructure general manager – Georgia Region. “Credit should be given to the guys on the production floor and the support staff in the office that ensured this job went off without a hitch.”
While the other portions of the infield project won’t be ready until that famous weekend in October, fans will be able to use the precast tunnel in a few weeks.
“We have had to deal with a lot of inclement weather since we started in October, but the Taylor team has done an outstanding job dealing with the cold and rain,” Branham said. “We are extremely excited for our fans to be able to experience the tunnel this spring.”