SAFER walls added to list of facility improvements; PIR is one of just six tracks to have safety barriers installed heading into 2004.

PHOENIX, AZ -- Phoenix International Raceway president Bryan R. Sperber announced today that installation of the SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) wall system is underway and should be completed by the first event of the 2004 season - NASCAR Winter Heat (Jan. 24-25). PIR joins Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Richmond International Raceway, New Hampshire International Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, as the only tracks to have SAFER walls in place at the moment.

The barriers run continuously for 1,550 feet from turn one through turn two, and for another 1,650 feet starting again at turn three all the way through turn four. The walls are 40½ inches high and contain steel tubes and 22" thick blocks of styrofoam that are placed between the original wall and the new wall.

"We have spent the past year making PIR a safer place to race," Sperber said. "Last fall, we moved the turn two wall out 12 feet in order to make it safer for the drivers and promote better racing action on the track. In my eyes, the installation of SAFER walls just finishes the overall project. We want the drivers and teams to understand that we are doing everything we can to make their experience at PIR a positive one."

Opened in 1964, PIR was once known as the "World's Fastest One-Mile Oval". While it may not hold the title any longer, the track is still one of the most challenging with different banking on either end of the track, as well as, an additional left-hand turn (dogleg) in the middle of the backstretch.

PIR takes the green flag on its 2004 season on Saturday, January 24 with the annual NASCAR Winter Heat, featuring the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series and the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series. The NASCAR Winter Heat is the first of seven race weekends on the PIR season schedule.

Highlighting the 2004 slate is the inaugural running of the Phoenix Historic Grand Prix featuring the 33rd Annual Kruse Auction (Jan. 30-Feb. 1), the 59th appearance of Indy Cars at the Phoenix Indy 200 and Copper World Classic (March 19-21), and the 17th annual Checker Auto Parts 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup weekend (Nov. 4-7). For tickets and information, fans can call 602-252-2227, 1-800-PIT-SHOP, or visit