Gateway Int'l Raceway news 2009-04-23

GIR Upgrades Ready for O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals MADISON, Ill. -- Gateway International Raceway recently put the finishing touches on the most extensive drag strip renovations in years with improvements made to both the top-end emergency...

GIR Upgrades Ready for O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals

MADISON, Ill. -- Gateway International Raceway recently put the finishing touches on the most extensive drag strip renovations in years with improvements made to both the top-end emergency shutdown area and the facility's timing system.

The following changes were made to the top end of the GIR drag strip:

* The gravel trap length was increased by 70 feet to a total of 165 feet with a gravel depth of 22 inches;

* 70 feet of metal guardrails on either side of the gravel trap were removed and replaced with 200 feet of concrete walls, measuring four feet high, with eight-foot tall, wire-supported chain link fencing added to the top of those walls;

* The existing six-foot nylon catch net was removed and replaced by two 12-foot nylon catch nets 25 feet apart with the first catch net placed at the 25-foot mark of the gravel trap;

* 12 feet behind the final catch net, a 90-foot wide, four-foot tall concrete wall was erected with a 12-foot, wire-supported chain link fence built on top;

* In front of the concrete wall are five rows of Illinois Department of Transportation-approved safety barrels filled with sand.

The upgrades provide the state of the art in safety for competitors. "The NHRA had a vision for what will be the best way for Gateway to enhance our entire gravel trap and we did not hold back on any of it," said Gateway International Raceway Vice President and General Manager Lenny Batycki. "Our operations staff, the skilled tradesmen we hired, and the NHRA have produced an area we are very proud of, but we hope we never have to use. Graham Light, Wayne McMurtry, and others at NHRA were great to work with on this project."

Another change to the drag strip was an upgrade to the timing system, with the previous system the casualty of a lightning strike last year. Bob Brockmeyer and Compulink Timing were able to repair that system after the strike to ensure the quality racing at Gateway could continue, returning this year to install a brand-new system. Gateway International Raceway is now the first track in NHRA's Division III to have a fiber-optic timing system.

"We are indebted to Bob and Compulink," Batycki said. "They were able to come in last season and get us through those challenges and came back this year to provide us a brand-new system. He did a phenomenal job and was able to get it done in time for our season to start."

Both the new timing system and the GIR top end will be on display next weekend when the NHRA Full Throttle Series comes to town for the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals. Race fans wanting tickets to this event should call 866-35-SPEED or visit GatewayRaceway.com.

-credit: gir

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Series NHRA