An around the clock effort by the Rockingham construction team allowed Britain's first-ever Champ Car race to take place, despite losing two of its practice days due to damp patches on the race track, situated near Corby in Northamptonshire. The...
An around the clock effort by the Rockingham construction team allowed Britain's first-ever Champ Car race to take place, despite losing two of its practice days due to damp patches on the race track, situated near Corby in Northamptonshire.
The 200+ mph Champ Car racers require a perfectly clean, dry, and predictable track surface in order to run at their consistent high speed. Unfortunately the heavy rain earlier in the week of the big race meant that the clay soil for several miles around Rockingham was in a saturated state and water from beneath the track began seeping back to the track surface.
Despite huge efforts, including the drilling of drainage wells over 50 feet deep to give additional drainage, 'weepers', damp patches on the track continued to appear. In these conditions, despite the use of six track driers, giant pick-up trucks with jet engines on the back, it was still not possible to safely run the Champ Cars on Thursday and Friday.
As a result, the decision was made to mount an intensive operation, working through Friday night to create additional drainage. Over 100 construction workers from all over the country were drafted in to drill around 20 additional drainage shafts in the track, as well as a many smaller holes. These were then carefully capped to ensure the vitally smooth, millimetre perfect running surface.
As dawn broke, the work was completed and after further intensive cleaning, drying and inspection, the first cars took to the track for evaluation laps just after 11am. Just after four o'clock, the immortal words "Gentlemen Start Your Engines" heralded the start of the Rockingham 500 race, won by Brazilian driver Gil de Ferran, who snatched victory on the very last lap of the race. However the true winners were the Rockingham team, whose efforts made the race possible.