World's Largest HDTV
Concord, NC United States | 2011
In 1991, NASCAR was experiencing a loss of fan enthusiasm and sponsorship leaving the sport searching for the silver bullet to bring back the excitement. This sparked a novel idea by Humpy Wheeler, former President of the Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS), “How about we run it at night?” So, in October 1991, the first superspeedway NASCAR race at night, “One Hot Night,” was announced with the Winston race scheduled for May 16, 1992.
At a speedway, construction is a race between races. Thanks to maintenance-free hot-dip galvanizing, CMS can focus on the excitement of the real races.
Hype for the race was important, but when the announcement was made, there was no clear lighting design in place. Adding to the drama, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and other NASCAR drivers complained about the prospect of racing at night and the unique safety concerns, such as dark spots, it presented. Furthermore, Speedway officials did not want fans in the grandstand watching the backstretch through an obstacle of poles causing a picket fence effect.
While researching a solution, CMS discovered Musco Lighting, a company in Iowa that pioneered the science of lighting sports facilities. Tackling a 1.5-mile superspeedway was a new challenge, but one they were eager to solve. Musco Lighting was tasked with achieving high light levels with exceptional uniformity across the entire track with no glare or shadows to meet the needs of three specific parties: drivers, spectators, and television cameras.
To ensure they understood the challenges at hand, Musco Lighting’s Chairman enrolled in the Richard Petty NASCAR driving school to understand the demands of lighting sight lines at high speeds. Furthermore, they built a 50:1 scale model of the speedway in Iowa to gain a perspective of the project and simulate camera, driver and spectator viewing angles. By the end of January, hot-dip galvanized steel prototypes had been installed in two sections of the Charlotte track to test. The innovative Mirtran™ system provided pinpoint light control, exceptional uniformity, and reduced glare – pleasing the television crews. It also passed the driver test as Darrell Waltrip noted after a practice run “I could see a dime 100 feet down the track.”
With the prototype tested and approved, the $1.7 million project was fast-tracked in order to meet the race deadline. The decision to hot-dip galvanize the poles was an easy one, as it was Musco Lighting’s standard specification, and Charlotte Motor Speedway had previous experience with galvanizing the front stretch grandstands in 1988. “One Hot Night” was a successfully showcase and paved the way for growth in many ways – for more night races (and lighting at speedways) as well as more use of hot-dip galvanized steel not only at CMS but throughout speedways in the circuit.
Today at Charlotte Motor Speedway, there are more than 4,550 tons of hot-dip galvanized steel. In addition to the grandstands and lights that were present in 1992, CMS has added additional hot-dip galvanizing in the grandstands in 1995 and 1997; modifications to the wheel fence in 1999 and 2013; SAFER Barrier walls in 2004, 2009, 2013, and 2015; and HDTV Jumbotron in 2011. Outside of Charlotte, the use of hot-dip galvanized steel in motor speedways has also continued to grow. At least 14 tracks use hot-dip galvanized steel in their SAFER barriers, wheel fence systems, grandstands, and/or lighting systems.
Based on a recent inspection and various mil readings of the HDG components, the maintenance-free longevity of hot-dip galvanized steel is apparent. Striving for sustainability is key to CMS and hot-dip galvanizing helps to reach that goal. Galvanized steel is made of natural, abundant and 100% recyclable elements – zinc and steel. Furthermore, the maintenance-free longevity means no additional raw materials, energy demand, or emissions have been used nor have any additional costs been accrued even after nearly 30 years in service and exposure to highly acidic exhaust fumes. In fact, based on the coating thickness, the hot-dip galvanized components are expected to have more than 60 years of maintenance-free protection remaining.
The success of “One Hot Night” was no fluke as Charlotte Motor Speedway now generates a regional economic impact of approximately $450 million annually from three premier NASCAR races as well as more than three dozen other events for motorsports enthusiasts. Thanks to the understated backdrop of hot-dip galvanized steel around the track, fans will be able to come and enjoy the adrenaline-pumping excitement of the races and color popping display of the LED screen for generations to come.
|Desc||Read. 1||Read. 2||Read. 3||Read. 4||Read. 5||Avg.|
|Turn 3, Pole #8||5.9||5.7||5.6||5.8||5.5||5.70|
|Backstretch, Pole #17||4.8||5.2||5.6||5.4||5.3||5.26|
|Turn 1 Suites, Column||4.0||6.2||6.1||5.6||5.1||5.42|
|Ford Grandstands, Column||3.6||3.7||3.4||3.9||3.8||3.67|
|Turn 4 stands, Column||10.1||10.1||10.2||9.6||10.4||10.08|
Concord, NC United States
Aesthetics, Coating Durability, Corrosion Performance, Ease of Specifying, Initial Cost, Life-Cycle Cost, Prior HDG Experience, Quality of HDG, Sustainability, Turnaround Time
115 steel telescoping light poles and 1,204 light fixtures (1992), Grandstands (1988, 1995, 1997), Diamond Tower (1997), SAFER Barrier (2004), Wheel fence modification (1999), HDTV Jumbotron (2011)
Wes Harris, Bruton Smith
Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
Jeremy Lomax - Eastern Sign Tech
Structural Technology Consultants
Myron Gordin, Joe Crookham
Laxton Construction, Elrod Corporation
Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
Whitley Steel Company, Inc.
Southern Bleacher Co.
American Fencing, McCall Fencing
Valmont Coatings - Empire Galvanizing
Galvan Industries, Inc.
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