MADISON, Ill. (Jan. 5, 2000) One of the biggest capital improvement projects at a NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division facility, the tunnel at Gateway International Raceway, is right on schedule as NASCAR 2000 opens, track officials said this week.
The foundation of the tunnel was laid at the end of December. It was scheduled to be followed by the walls and the ceiling of the tunnel -- actually two tunnels that measure 112 feet in length by 9 feet high by 12 feet wide.
The tunnels, which pass under Turn 4 of the one-mile oval located outside St. Louis that is a venue for the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series along with several NASCAR Touring divisions, will allow pedestrians and vehicles except trucks to pass freely at all times.
The tunnel work, being done by Baxmeyer Construction from Waterloo, Ill., should be done in early January. The outer retaining wall in the tunnel area will be replaced and grading for the 140-foot stretch of the front straightaway taken up during the construction will be returned. Reese Asphalt Co. of Cahokia, Ill., will then put back the layer of asphalt on the track surface in early March.
That will allow plenty of time for the asphalt to cure and be ready for Gateway's first major event of the 2000 season, the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 Presented by Pepsi on May 6-7. The event features the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Championship Series open wheel cars in which NASCAR drivers such as Kenny Irwin, Jason Leffler and Dave Steele regularly compete.
"We're pretty much on schedule, and we're excited about getting the tunnel in," said Rod Wolter, vice president of construction/development at Dover Downs Entertainment's three Midwest motorsports facilities -- Gateway; Memphis Motorsports Park in Millington, Tenn.; and the new Nashville Speedway, being built in Wilson County, Tenn.
"It will greatly facilitate infield access for fans and competitors. It opens the door to possibly hosting endurance races here in the future and also allowed us to remove the old footbridge, which opens sight lines for current seating and opens the door to future expansion."