Results 1 to 28 of 28

Thread: Dirt track preparation

  1. #1
    price checker
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Fort Worth Texas US
    Posts
    11,593

    Dirt track preparation

    I'm not sure if this is the right forum, but I am guessing someone here could answer my questions. And I guess they might be 'trade secrets' too, but I'll ask anyway.
    1. Why do they pack the track in the clockwise when they race counter clockwise?
    2. When I was much younger, I don't remember nearly as many dry slick tracks as I do now. What's different? The dirt? Cars? Car counts? Tire's? Chemicals? My memory?
    3. Another one from memory. Black clay tracks seemed be start out stickier and not change a lot during a night, but red clay tracks seemed too slick and sloppy to even run the heats, but were hard as pavement by the feature. Why?
    Some people will do nearly anything in order to be able to not do anything.

  2. #2
    Insider
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Hoffman Estates, IL
    Posts
    550
    No 2: I'm pretty sure that they used to use chemicals on the tracks that held in the moisture that they can't use anymore due to enviromental legislation.

  3. #3
    Race Fan
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Austin Tx USA
    Posts
    3,570
    Biggest thing going in the wrong direction for the dirt surface is, The Big steam rollers they run on them,IE those 18 inch and wider right rear tires.
    aXe
    Born Again Race Fan seen at
    www.openwheelracers3.com

  4. #4
    Lucky

    Not all tracks pack in counterclockwise, some do and some don't. Theory is that you run the moisture in a different way to counteract th big tires.

    The biggest differences I see are the bigger tires, and a lack of drivers willing to back it in. Most of the kids all like the smooth tracks, so track ops don't water like they used to. Watch the SCRA guys one night if you get a chance, they really back it in!

    Red clay is considerably different than black dirt-black dirt contains a lot of organic material and tends to hold moisture better, red clay doesn't.
    "For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's future, and we are all mortal".

    John Kennedy at American University 1963

    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power"

    A. Lincoln

  5. #5
    Is Bat Boy KevMcNJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    South Carolina; The tailgating capital of the world
    Posts
    23,153
    I think alot of places including all of Canada have outlawed clacium which many if not most dirt tracks used at one time to prep a track and keep dust down. We run em counterclockwise to pack it in. Make all cars squeeze tight against the fence and slowly move down one wheel width at a time. Leave it a little sloppy in warm ups and it should be in good shape until intermission. Make it perfect for hot laps and you will run out of race track before you run out of heat races. Ive seen some tracks give all drivers 4 5 or 6 laps under green in hot laps. We See no reason for that. Just wasting good track for meaningless warm ups. You arent gonna learn anything about set-ups in that slop anyhow.
    We run 15-20 cars at a time for 2 to 2 1/2 green laps. Lets them all get heat in the motor and make sure everything on the car is tight and nothing is leaking.
    I have nothing to do with track prep before hot-laps but I do know they start around Thursday for a Staurday show.
    And too much water can be as bad as not enough.
    "I was thinking about retiring, but I think I'll stick around a few more years just to aggravate him" -Billy Pauch

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Daytona Beach, Fl.
    Posts
    225
    They used to use calcium chloride on the track to hold moisture and keep the dust down. Th do-gooders claimed it was bad for the enviroment and the goverment made them stop using it.
    Ironically, some European countries use it on icy roads in liquid form, as it melts the ice but dont re-freeze. There is a move afoot in this country to change to this type of de-icer as salt does more damage than good, including the enviroment.

  7. #7
    Is Bat Boy KevMcNJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    South Carolina; The tailgating capital of the world
    Posts
    23,153
    What?, environmentalists DONT know what they are talking about?
    Well knock me over with a feather!

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Fresno, CA., USA
    Posts
    971
    Blackie Gegian used to grade, water and repack the Clovis Speedway dirt at intermission. They would prep for a couple of days before the Sunday shows. After practice and qualifying, they would water the track before the heats. After the heats and before the semi, they would turn over the surface, water it, turn and grade it again, and then pack it. The track was good for the semi and great for the main event. If they didn't do the intermission prep, the bottom went blue hard and the top turned to suger sand.
    A good race driver, given adequate seat time, can drive any well prepared racecar on any track surface or configuration at competitive speeds. Remember, I said a GOOD race driver!!!

  9. #9
    I know that liquid calcium is still used on the three dirt miles in the midwest, I know that for a fact. No dust on any racetrack for daytime shows.

    And if you want to see about the best track crew in the country, visit Tommy Helfrich and the people at Haubstaudt in Indiana-they harrow the track with a sheeps foot, and water and repack before the features each night they race. It makes for a great track!

  10. #10
    price checker
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Fort Worth Texas US
    Posts
    11,593
    Thanks for the good answers. Does anyone think that the person preparing the track is important as in having trade secrets, even if they apply just to his track or his type of track. Or do you think anyone can use the correct method and do a good job?

    And a followup on the direction of packing. It was always my thinking that the directions wasn't that terribly important, but since the cars were designed to turn left, making them turn right would keep drivers (especially crew members) from getting on it so hard and slinging the mud? Is/was that a factor?

  11. #11
    No Lucky, the person doing it is extremely important, there is no subsitute for experience in this type of deal. Different surfaces react differently to type of day, weather, type of car that is racing, etc.

    For example, you might dig deeper and water heavier for a traditional sprint car race (for the cushion) than a winged show. You might water different for clay as opposed to black dirt. You might mix water softener pellets with a load of water on one track, and use laundry detergent on another.

    Each preparer has his own way and his own little tricks.

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Port Jervis, NY
    Posts
    4,660
    Really, what they should use is a piece of machinery called a "Sheeps Foot" - a big round tube with lalrge "spikes" on it. They put good sized holes into the dirt surface, the you water it. The water gets INTO the dirt, not run off. I tried to copy & paste a pi9c here, but it did not take. Go to Yahoo! and do a search on Sheeps Foot.

  13. #13
    Persona Non Grata
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    12,187
    Lucky - one big difference between then and now is the tires. Tires are so much softer these days, and more readily lay down rubber on the track. The old tires were big, but they were hard, and got their traction by digging into the dirt. Modern tires are softer and get more traction by gripping the dirt, which leaves rubber. Once a track takes rubber and seals over, your hope for a tacky surface is gone.
    "It was actually fun, because you're back fully driving again in these trucks. Ninety percent of the tracks we go to in the IRL, you're flat-out. I was having to lift off the corners some here." - Buddy Rice

  14. #14
    Is Bat Boy KevMcNJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    South Carolina; The tailgating capital of the world
    Posts
    23,153
    Originally posted by Lucky161:
    <STRONG>Thanks for the good answers. Does anyone think that the person preparing the track is important as in having trade secrets, even if they apply just to his track or his type of track. Or do you think anyone can use the correct method and do a good job?

    And a followup on the direction of packing. It was always my thinking that the directions wasn't that terribly important, but since the cars were designed to turn left, making them turn right would keep drivers (especially crew members) from getting on it so hard and slinging the mud? Is/was that a factor?</STRONG>

    Without a doubt experience is everything. There is no recipe. The gentleman who calls the shots where I work had no previous experience in track prep as far as I know.
    There was lots of trial and error the first season. And lots of phone calls to dirt
    track operators around the USA.
    Some nights it was like a corn field but now 5 seasons later his track is race-able from the inside up to the fence and easy on tires too.
    I Have to look this
    sheeps foot up but he bought some piece of equipment after a few particularly bad weeks early on which helped considerably. It is dragged behind a tractor and has these blades that churn up the top layer of clay.
    IIRC it was $30K for this piece of equipment

  15. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Long Island, NY
    Posts
    1,753
    George Marshman (Bobb's dad) set up a dirt track at Hatfield PA, that was so tacky you could almost walk out of your shoes. The bite was so good that at the start of the race, it was hard to broadslide your midget..Don't take my word for (no one does), but some of the "old timers" who hung out there will tell you that George added LESTOIL to the tank on the water track.

  16. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Port Jervis, NY
    Posts
    4,660
    Lenny, I guess the secret was HOW MUCH Lestoil was added, right? But really, in today's racing, what with the extra wide tires anf the "downforce" on the cars (especially the DIRT Mods), the tracks just get packed down so much. Was watching a Late Model race on SPEED last night, from East Bay in Fl. Track was nothing but one big "glaze". I almost cry when I see a dirt track where you can see the reflection of the cars on the track, and it looks like a mirror.

  17. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Daytona Beach, Fl.
    Posts
    225
    Tommy, dont let the "shine" at East Bay fool you. Thats water that makes it look slick. East Bay is only 2 1/2 feet above sea level and at high tide the water table comes to the surface. Some times it so tacky the 360 sprints bog off the corners.

  18. #18
    price checker
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Fort Worth Texas US
    Posts
    11,593
    "George Marshman (Bobb's dad) set up a dirt track at Hatfield PA, that was so tacky you could almost walk out of your shoes."
    I remember at Thunderbird Speedway in Crandall TX (just east of Dallas a bit)more than once I had to go back after one of my shoes after it decided to stay where I put it last instead of continuing on.

    We used to go to Amarillo every Labor Day weekend for the supermodified championships, but rarely stayed for the races on Monday afternoon. That was because the short, flat and wide red clay track was great on Saturday and Sunday nights, but was nearly always dry slick on Monday afternoon. It was kind of a let down to see those same cars that were so fast the night before almost in slow motion on Monday.

    RW, in your opinion would going back to harder tires help or hurt the racing?

  19. #19
    Is Bat Boy KevMcNJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    South Carolina; The tailgating capital of the world
    Posts
    23,153
    Originally posted by calinoff:
    <STRONG>George Marshman (Bobb's dad) set up a dirt track at Hatfield PA, that was so tacky you could almost walk out of your shoes. The bite was so good that at the start of the race, it was hard to broadslide your midget..Don't take my word for (no one does), but some of the "old timers" who hung out there will tell you that George added LESTOIL to the tank on the water track.</STRONG>
    Did George Marshman promote demo derbies at one time in the NE? I remember going to demos at Wall Stadium and this old guy would announce and he always talked about how safety was important cuz he lost a son in a racer. This musta been about 1971 or 72.
    My dad said at the time his son had died in an Indy car. Im thinking it was the same guy.

  20. #20
    Race Fan
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Austin Tx USA
    Posts
    3,570
    The Variables in Dirt track prep are so many this thread would have to be the longest in the world to fully cover it.
    Then another type of dirt will show up and throw out all you had learned about dirt preperation.
    That sheeps foot some mention here is about the worse piece of equipment ever brought into the dirt track prep scene. It is a compactor of the dirt thats all is! Thats what it was invented for and thats what it does.
    The foot packs the dirt so hard the water that falls into the holes it leaves is no way going to get into the dirt. It will evaporate first or sit on top and make it to snoty.
    All they are trying to do with it is seal off the underlaying dirt so they dont have to water so deep.
    Then with the wide tires packing the dirt (they ride on top of it). It will almost always seal off the top then take on rubber,Then you hear the tires squeeling and the dirt truns black! Might as well run Pavement.
    World of Outlaws like this because it means lack of traction and slows them down. Makes for safer shows? according to them.
    You cant have WIDE tires and run tacky tracks it isnt in the cards. They just pack the surface to well.
    It may be tacky for a while but with the surface sealed from the bottem dirt it will become a hard surface then glaze then take rubber then tire squelling and might as well run pavement.
    If this doesnt fit the racing venue you attend, Its because there are so many variables. Each track needs its own dirt guru because what works for one wont work necessarily for any others.
    IMHO if it works for you fine if it doesnt then it must be dirt problems all over again.
    aXe

    [ March 09, 2003: Message edited by: aXe ]

  21. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Long Island, NY
    Posts
    1,753
    Kev...George Marshman did indeed promote demo derbys...in NJ & PA after Hatfield. After Bobby's death at Peoenix, Marshman put the Hatfield property up for sale and Larry Mendelsohn who promoted the Islip (NY) Speedway and myself were going to buy the place. Marshman said that after losing his son, he wanted out of racing, that he had lost all interest in the sport. When we asked him for a to sign a legal statement that he would not promote any form of motorsports (Demo's included), in a 75 mile radius of Hatfield, which would also include his facility at Sanatoga, Pa. , he refused...and our deal was history.

  22. #22
    Is Bat Boy KevMcNJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    South Carolina; The tailgating capital of the world
    Posts
    23,153
    Well there you go. Thanks Cal. I recall he carried around a black flag for the disqualifed cars. Funny thing is the black flag was attached to a baseball bat! I could use one like that on some Saturdays!
    I also recall he was missing a thumb so he had to hold the bat with the remaining 4 fingers. Funny the things you can remember from your youth. I cant recall where my shoes are in the morning but I can recall a demo derby from 1971. I think Im a loser!

  23. #23
    Persona Non Grata
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    12,187
    Originally posted by Lucky161:
    <STRONG>RW, in your opinion would going back to harder tires help or hurt the racing?</STRONG>
    I think it would help those tracks remain tacky that are prepared to be tacky - dry tracks (which are a lot of what we get these days) would be dry regardless.

    Thing is, Lucky, there are a lot of places where you can see three-wide stuff on dry-slick tracks. As long as the track is even, top to bottom, you can see some good racing. What harder tires would change is the "locked down," single rubber groove type of track. Without the track taking rubber, you won't see that track surface at all.

    Good racing depends, too, on what you're watching. Non-winged sprints, late models, and modifieds can still usually give good multi groove racing.

  24. #24
    master of time and space
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    INDY
    Posts
    3,148
    I am fortunate enough to have come from a time when there was real dirt track racing and real dirt track drivers . In the early 60s, USAC required tracks to be plowed( yes, with real farm plows) 8 to 12 inches deep and use calcium chloride to retain moisture.
    Even earlier, in the 50s, dirt tracks were sprayed with old motor oil to keep the dust down and, after a while, the combination of oil and dirt would evolve in to a rudimentary kind of pavement.
    Ha! can you imagine how fast these track owners would be hauled off to prison if they tried that today!

    The sad state of the current dirt tracks is a combination of several factors.
    Chemicals to retain moisture are expensive and illegal, track owners are not going to spend the fuel money or the time to plow the track surface, track owners are not going to the trouble and expense of having proper clay brought in for a proper track surface and one of the biggest factors, that no one has brought up, is that the insurance companies love dry, slick quarter mile tracks(with no walls) where the cars can look and sound big, by revving their engines and spinning their tires but can not really go very fast.
    Even if someone ever prepared a proper dirt track , you would have to dig purty deep into the old tire pile and come up with some old Riverside "knobs" or some old Firestone "double diamonds", because no one even makes tires for a proper dirt track anymore

    [ March 10, 2003: Message edited by: mac miller ]

  25. #25
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Daytona Beach, Fl.
    Posts
    225
    Your right Mac, Langhorne, prior to paving was oiled clay. I remember getting it out of my ears 3 days after running there. I also have pictures taken on a sunny day where you can see the reflection of the cars on the track surface.The sun would bring the oil to the surface. One time Rene Charland, who always had an unlit cigar in his mouth when driving, lit it up after the race and it caught fire from the oil.

  26. #26
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Long Island, NY
    Posts
    1,753
    Ron...one classic remark about the Horne was uttered by Jiggs Peters (who ran very well there}. "After 20 laps the shine on the track is so bright, you could lean out of the car and shave in it"

  27. #27
    Sponsor Wanted!!!
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    7,822
    The old shop I used to race out of had an old panel truck stuffed full of double diamonds. Dad even wanted me to run em one night, but the other car owner talked him out of it (THANK GOD).

    I've been to a lot of dirt tracks, and to me it's about 2 things. PLOWING and WATERING. The sheeps foot works some times (especially on high banked tracks), but like axe said, other times it just compacts the surface. Really needs to be used AFTER plowing.

    I've stopped by some tracks on Wednesday and watched the owner watering a totally plowed up race track. And the show wasn't until Saturday.

    IMO, Granite City,IL always had a great surface. Sure, it'd get slick, but it was SMOOTH. When racing, I'll take that over a wet, shock buster like St. Charles, MO any night.

    If you can't get it smooth AND wet, then just get it smooth. (Which is probably what Ted Johnson has been asking for, and tracks give up on tacky entirely, and just go for smooth).

    Farmington, MO is super sticky red clay. Great surface most of the night as it holds water pretty good. But, **** getting that stuff out of your hair, and off your race car is a pain.
    They say the blood is on my hands
    ‘Cause I put down the money and I made up the plan


    www.tracksideonline.com

  28. #28
    Race Fan
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Austin Tx USA
    Posts
    3,570
    About that water table height, West Cap in the spring with the yolo flood control basin full. It was right next to the track. When they finaly got it smooth enough and packed so the race cars could get on it. Green flag meant so much MUD in the air you couldnt tell wether it was raining mud or what.
    They moved so much mud there the three foot high crash wall at the end of the year was only about a foot high or less. So then they had to move all that dirt back down off the high side for the next year. Talk about Bite there Lots of Single car bicycles out of the place.
    aXe

    [ March 12, 2003: Message edited by: aXe ]

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •