Hoar Construction Transforms Talladega Superspeedway Infield
Enhancing the Fan Experience: Hoar Construction Upgrades Infield to Bring Fans Closer to the Excitement at Talladega Superspeedway
Beginning with demolition through completion, Hoar Construction transformed part of Talladega Superspeedway’s infield, creating a new fan-friendly area.
“We think it is a great addition, which will allow fans to upgrade their experience,” says Grant Lynch, Chairman of Talladega Superspeedway, in Lincoln, Alabama.
The speedway opened in 1969 as the Alabama International Motor Speedway, with the first race called the Talladega 500, to honor local people who helped make the track a reality. The name of the track was changed to the Talladega Superspeedway in 1989. It holds 78,000 seats. The $50 million infield project is the largest in the speedway’s history, Lynch reports.
Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project is part of the track’s parent company International Speedway Corporation’s plan for updating its motorsports complexes. A few other tracks already have been upgraded with infield activities.
“Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR’s most competitive track, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year,” Lynch says. “We have been doing some of these changes to the infield to give fans more access to the sport.”
DLR Group of Overland Park, Kansas, designed the new infield project. “Our design gives fans a front row view into the activity in the garages, as well as driver and pit crew interactions,” says Bob Carlson, DLR Group Designer and Principal in a statement.
The general contractor – Hoar Construction of Birmingham, Alabama – participated in preconstruction activities. Hoar also renovated existing structures, including the media center. F.R. Hoar in Birmingham established Hoar Construction in 1940. Nearly 80 years later, its team of more than 600 associates operates across the United States from seven offices in six states. The company provides construction management, general contracting, preconstruction and design-build services. With a construction volume of approximately $866 million nationally, Hoar provides services to retail, multifamily, commercial, higher education, health care, industrial, hospitality, entertainment and government clients. The company is currently working on projects in 11 states and the District of Columbia.
Getting Fans More Involved
Talladega Superspeedway has the largest infield in the sport of NASCAR, 242 acres, which enabled it to add more features, big buildings and activities, Lynch adds. In the center of the infield, the speedway created the Talladega Garage Experience (TGE), where fans can observe drivers and their teams up close. If fans have infield or grandstand tickets, they can then purchase daily or three-day passes to the TGE.
“It’s a neat way to get fans more involved,” says Gary Merriman, Project Superintendent with Hoar Construction. Now, with a fan-zone pass, “all that will separate you from your favorite driver and race team is a 4-foot chain-link fence.”
One highlight is the 35,000-square-foot open-air social club, called BIG BILL’s in honor of NASCAR founder William H. G. “Big Bill” France, who built Talladega Superspeedway. It features an 80-foot-long bar, along with a variety of seating areas; a host of food vendors featuring a value-priced menu, with nothing more than $4; with a polished concrete floor; and a 41-foot diagonal video screen. On two sides of the social center, there are 11 bays of NASCAR Cup Series garages for drivers and their teams as they prepare for each race.
“We will have the top 22 teams in the sport lining this social area,” Lynch explains. “It will be pretty special.”
The new TGE also includes three additional concession stands; two other garages to house the rest of the 40-car field and inspection stations; garage offices; more than 200 RV spaces along the inside of the Alabama Gang Superstretch, which will have both water and power hookups in a gated community; a race operations building; a two-lane, oversize vehicle tunnel to allow 24-hour entry and exit from the infield; and a new victory lane area for fans to celebrate with race winners. Throughout the TGE, patio-style furniture and sunshade canopies were installed so people can watch the race on giant video screens, made up of glass panels. Putting the panels up costs the speedway $300,000 per weekend.
A Tight Schedule
Hoar Construction completed the project within five months, starting with the demolition of older buildings, with earthwork starting on May 5. It finished construction of 11 new buildings in September.
“The biggest accomplishment was the amount of work that went on in a short period of time,” Merriman recalls. “Everybody worked hard.”
Most of the buildings are pre-engineered metal buildings and were in fabrication before the project broke ground. Mechanical and electrical equipment also were specified and in production prior to groundbreaking. When crews arrived in the infield, the building materials were waiting, Merriman says.
“My field team and I preplanned how we were going to start the job and execute the job based on logistics, and material and equipment deliveries,” Merriman says. “We had a good game plan and hit the job running.”
Within one week of arriving at the site, Hoar Construction had demolished many of the existing buildings in the infield. Exceptions include restroom/shower complexes; the care center; the media center, which was only gutted and re-furbished; and a few other small buildings. Crews had hauled off all of the debris and concrete, so the dirt was ready to work.
Crews used GPS machine controlled equipment for grading to work faster and more efficiently.
During the second week of construction, the contractor poured the spread-footing foundations for three buildings. When Hoar Construction crews ran into unsuitable soils, Merriman recalls, they had to dig down until reaching suitable soil and then backfill to bring it back up to grade.
At the end of the first month, all 11 foundations were poured and about half of the slabs. Then building erection began. The interiors feature high-end tile finishes in the suites. Rusty tin, rustic wood, and concrete grace the exteriors.
At peak, 210 workers and four superintendents were working the job. Hoar Construction worked 20-hour days, seven days per week on the infield project. Merriman praised the company’s subcontractors for their efforts to keep the project on schedule.
No races took place during construction. A few special events, such as the NASCAR Racing Experience, occurred monthly. Hoar Construction teams coordinated with speedway officials for all events.
Construction progressed well and Lynch reports that Hoar Construction did a good job. Finishing on time was tight with people working right up to the projected finish date. The first races took place in October as part of the track’s NASCAR doubleheader playoff weekend.
“All of the companies here, Hoar and the people under them, are working hard,” Lynch says. “It was ready to go on race week.”
All photos courtesy of Hoar Construction