Air Titan track dryer to debut during Daytona Speedweeks

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The new Air Titan developed by NASCAR’s Research and Development Center has the goal of reducing track drying time by 80%.

Daytona Beach, Fla. – Recognizing the impact that rain delays have on race events, Brian France, NASCAR chairman and chief executive officer, tasked NASCAR’s Research and Development Center to develop a quicker track-drying system, and working feverishly over the last eight months, the skilled staff devised Air Titan, a system that uses compressed air to push water off the racing surface. The Air Titan announcement was made today by Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations.

Air Titan will make its debut during Speedweeks at the Daytona International Speedway, and it is recognized as Phase 1 of realizing France’s vision. The ultimate goal is to reduce drying time by 80 per cent, which will go a long way toward improving the race product and enhance the fan experience. Thirty minutes is another goal, but it is too early to see how realistic that number would be.

NASCAR demonstrates the Air Titan technology that will be used to remove rain from tracks
NASCAR demonstrates the Air Titan technology that will be used to remove rain from tracks

Photo by: Joe Jennings

Using compressed air, the Air Titan efficiently and reliably pushes water off of the racing surface and onto the apron where vacuum trucks will remove the reminder of the moisture. Jet dryers will follow each Air Titan, drying any excess water that remains on the track.

“NASCAR is really excited to officially introduce our track drying technology,” O’Donnell said. “As everyone knows, the time it takes to dry a track and the impact is has on out fans and those watching on television is why Brian France tasked our R&D Center to come up with a solution to reducing drying time.”

O’Donnell said the technology used today was introduced by Roger Penske in 1976 and with the passing of time and the advancement of science and engineering, a new approach is being sought.

Projected to take 18 to 24 months to develop, the R&D staff reduced that number to eight months for the first phase. At this point in time, the developers are deep into a learning cycle with considerable work and refinement yet to be accomplished.

The R&D Center worked with external companies along the away, calling upon specialists to assist with the development. No cost estimates were provided, but it was stated that the developers burned the midnight oil to accomplish their mission. At this point in time, Air Titan is only for use at Daytona but as time and development progress, its use will likely be shared with other venues.

NASCAR demonstrates the Air Titan technology that will be used to remove rain from tracks
NASCAR demonstrates the Air Titan technology that will be used to remove rain from tracks

Photo by: Joe Jennings

Describing the set-up of the equipment, O’Donnell said there will be two identical sets of equipment on each side of the track, and each one will do a complete pass of the track. Compressors will blast air at a high rate of speed through hoses to air-tight modules, which, in turn, will blow highly pressure sheets of air and water over the track surface and down to the track’s apron. On the apron, a regenerative air-vacuum truck will absorb the water and five jet dryers will be behind each truck.

Admittedly, Air Titan is untested and can be regarded as a beginning point in the evolution of track-drying. Daytona’s Speedweeks will be used as a test and revisions and tweaks will be forthcoming thereafter. “We have work to do and will look at our options,” O’Donnell said.

While no one wants to see it rain during Speedweeks, participants, fans, the television networks and others are enthused about the potential of the new technology.

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP , NASCAR-NS , NASCAR-TRUCK
Article type Breaking news
Tags air titan, daytona, nascar, nascar-cup, track dryer

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