SONOMA, Calif. (IMMEDIATE RELEASE) - Sears Point Raceway has begun phase two of its $35 million Modernization Plan as huge Caterpillar machinery has, once again, taken over the road course and drag strip. Phase two officially kicked off on...
SONOMA, Calif. (IMMEDIATE RELEASE) - Sears Point Raceway has begun phase two of its $35 million Modernization Plan as huge Caterpillar machinery has, once again, taken over the road course and drag strip.
Phase two officially kicked off on Sunday, Aug. 5, at the conclusion of the NHRA FRAM Autolite Nationals when drag racers John Force and Gary Scelzi ripped up portions of the drag strip while piloting Caterpillar bulldozers.
The ripping of the drag strip was a premonition as the second phase will focus heavily on both the road course and drag strip. Phase one, conversely, was centered on infrastructure, traffic access and circulation and environmental mitigation. The bulk of the track improvements and spectator amenities is expected to be complete by the NASCAR Winston Cup event in June, 2002.
"It has been interesting and somewhat challenging to stage our 2001 event season in the midst of a major remodel, but our staff has done a spectacular job making it all work. Now it's time to move back into our construction mode," said Steve Page, president and general manager of Sears Point Raceway.
Phase two of the $35 million Modernization Plan will feature the
* Construction of 30,000 hillside terrace seats alongside Turns 7-9, bringing the total to 64,000 hillside terrace seats.
* Construction of a go-kart track on the south side of the property.
* Construction of a 10,000 seat permanent grandstand at Turn 7.
* Construction of a 15,000 seat permanent grandstand along the west side of start/finish line, bringing the total to 25,000 permanent grandstand seats. Twenty-two suites will be built along the top of the grandstands.
* Creation of a 660-foot concrete launching pad for drag racing and separation of the road course from the drag strip. Construction of drag strip return road.
* Increased run-off on the road course at Turns 8, 8a, 9 and 10.
* Enlargement of pit road to accommodate a 43-car starting grid for road-race events.
* Repaving of the road course and drag strip. The width of the road course will also increase from 40 to 50 feet.
* Expansion of paddock by more than 70 percent.
* Pedestrian tunnels under start/finish line and Turn 10.
* Remodeling Trackside Tower, Media Center and Driver's Lounge.
The official groundbreaking ceremonies for the project took place in September, 2000, and since then, more than 5,000,000 cubic yards of dirt have been moved. The two-phase plan will give fans a state-of-the-art facility that provides all of the amenities seen at today's modern sports venues.
Phase one, which was completed over the summer, featured the construction of 34,000 hillside terrace seats above Turns 2-4; construction of shuttle and shade shelters; permanent garages (40) for teams; dramatically expanded entrance and access roads to reduce traffic congestion around the raceway; a new entrance for fans at Gate 7 alongside Highway 121; and increased run-off on the road course at turns 1, 2, 3, 3a, 4, 6 and 7, among other things.
"We had hoped for a good response from fans who tried the new terrace seating this season. As it turned out, the reaction has been enthusiastic beyond anything we could have expected," Page said. "The seats are roomy, comfortable and the views are breathtaking. We can't wait to complete the terraces on the east side of the track."
The specific improvements to the road course in phase two will give competitors a state-of-the-art surface, featuring a wider track, more run-off for safety and a repaved circuit. The improved drag strip, with a 660-foot concrete launch pad and re-paved surface, will also make Sears Point Raceway one of the top venues on the NHRA circuit.
"It's great to be part of Bruton Smith's master plan for this track," said John Force, 10-time NHRA Winston Funny Car champion. "You can bet this will be a super track once they're through with it. I can't wait to get out here next year."
Fans will also enjoy the tunnel under the start/finish line, which will expedite pedestrian traffic flow around the property, as well as the 30,000 hillside terrace seats, which will be built along Turns 7-9. The first hillside terrace seats were utilized during the 2001 main-event season above Turns 2-4 and were a huge success among fans. The same is expected for the seats above Turns 7-9.