Jump to content



Sign in to follow this  
Joshua Jello Loughnot

The Science to Surfaces

Recommended Posts


23 minutes ago, Joshua Jello Loughnot said:

What's the science behind a race surface?

Is there an ideal depth of clay?

Certain type of clay? 

Amount of water in the clay? 

Moisture in the air?

Warm or cold temps?

Wind? 

Sun, clouds? 

Etc etc.

 

You'll get slot of opinions but I wouldnt pay too much attention to most of them. Not many on here have any clue including me. I will say some of your questions depend on whether you like it dry, dusty, tacky or whatever. But have at people.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clay matters big time and so does moisture content. As mentioned above the most well maintained surface I've ever seen is the one at Haubstadt. It is my favorite track in Indiana. Theres no dry slick racing there ever, and it regularly produces the best finishes in Indiana every year. 

The biggest enemy for a good surface is plentiful sunshine and high winds as obviously the moisture will be evaporated out of the surface quicker. 

Also the more moisture in the air, the more it will keep it in the surface. 

The real key is having the moisture deep enough into the layers of clay so it can remain at least somewhat wet throughout the night. I think we've all been to a track where the weather may have looked questionable and the surface was sealed over to allow for a night of racing to happen, so the water is only in the top few inches of clay. 

Some tracks are also known to add different things to the water to keep water in the surface. Ive seen certain chemicals added that keep moisture, but Kokomo speedway in Indiana either uses laundry detergent/some kind of soap, or a chemical because the trucks smell like fresh laundry and the water that spills foams like crazy. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing about dirt tracks that most people don’t know is that the typical track surface is only six to twelve inches deep. 

As far as the “perfect” surface, I’m not sure there is such a thing. I’ve seen fantastic races at tracks that had surfaces that have consisted of little more than just fill dirt, and I’ve seen stinkers at tracks that have surfaces that are clay. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, NickF83 said:

Clay matters big time and so does moisture content. As mentioned above the most well maintained surface I've ever seen is the one at Haubstadt. It is my favorite track in Indiana. Theres no dry slick racing there ever, and it regularly produces the best finishes in Indiana every year. 

 

Thank you. I cringe when I repeatedly read on here that any surface that is not a rock hard, black slick skating rink sucks.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a good post. You guys better start arguing soon or it'll die off quickly.

I'm probably wrong, but it seems to me that bigger tracks suck when they are too tacky, while smaller tracks seem to weather it a bit better.

I don't think the texture, moisture, smoothness and other factors are as important as balancing out the lanes so they are pretty equal. For instance, Turn 1 at Fonda is only 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lanes, but from the middle of 2 til the end of the front stretch, the lanes are so even that you'll see passes on the far inside and far outside that would make anyone argue over which is faster. The end result is many finishes that are decided by a few inches.

So ... my vote is that it's all about the lanes, not the surface.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, GasketCase said:

This is a good post. You guys better start arguing soon or it'll die off quickly.

I'm probably wrong, but it seems to me that bigger tracks suck when they are too tacky, while smaller tracks seem to weather it a bit better.

I don't think the texture, moisture, smoothness and other factors are as important as balancing out the lanes so they are pretty equal. For instance, Turn 1 at Fonda is only 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lanes, but from the middle of 2 til the end of the front stretch, the lanes are so even that you'll see passes on the far inside and far outside that would make anyone argue over which is faster. The end result is many finishes that are decided by a few inches.

So ... my vote is that it's all about the lanes, not the surface.

And I believe that since different teams use different set ups, it's better when the track varies from top to bottom, and even from corner to corner.  And how about when a driver doesn't do well during the early stages, then the track changes to match their set-up ?  Man I love dirt.......so many variables.  Like in baseball where you can "manage" from your seat, dirt racing allows you to be a crew chief in the grandstand.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, FightForTheRail said:

Thank you. I cringe when I repeatedly read on here that any surface that is not a rock hard, black slick skating rink sucks.

Not that a dry/slick track can't produce good racing, but Haubstadt has more moisture in it on a regular basis than any other track I've ever been too, and I've never seen a bad show there. But the perfect example of dry/slick with great racing is the formula that Port Royal has figured out. Its 2 and 1/2 hours from my house, but if they ran Modifieds there every week id make the drive every time 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a clay road course in my back yard that my kids and I ride dirt bikes on. Its probably about an acre or so. No jumps more like a flat TT track. Its about 15' wide all the way around. Here is what I have learned after working the track this whole summer:

1. If you till up the track and it rains you will wait about 2 weeks before you can work it back it in. It just turns to mush. I think JBayko made a good point that most tracks can't have clay really deep because it can turn into a mess.

2. Once you get it packed in...you pretty much have your surface until you till it up again. People think once its sealed over you can fill holes or smooth out the track; its damn near impossible; you need to till, grade, and pack all over again so having a smooth even surface is critical before packing.

3. When it gets dry and dusty....leave it for a few laps; the dust blows off and you have a nice smooth surface. If it rains when it is like this look out because its like being on ice.

These may seem obvious but its easier said than done. I can work my tractor, bucket, tiller pretty well and I still make mistakes. (not as bad as first SDW at Oswego though..lol or first SDS at Thunder Alley...ouch)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, scottnorwood said:

"..........not as bad as first SDW at Oswego..........."

LOL........When asked if he was happy with his third place finish, Brett Hearn replied "I'm just happy to be alive!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/16/2019 at 3:43 PM, NickF83 said:

... Kokomo speedway in Indiana either uses laundry detergent/some kind of soap, or a chemical because the trucks smell like fresh laundry and the water that spills foams like crazy. 

Car Wash detergent, and I only know this by asking twice... once at Tri State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana and at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minnesota. Both were when I was traveling the country pointing TV cameras for the World of Outlaw Late Models. As you said, foam was spilling out of the fill holes on top of the water trucks, so I asked what caused the foam. Tracks out in the Midwest have very little clay content, they are almost 100% topsoil which dries out quickly. The car wash soap is added to a tank of water (I didn't ask the percentage) and makes the soil sticky. The sheeps foot, tiller and rake are crucial tools in getting the surface to accept the soap and can be timely, but the end results are awesome. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OC should go to dollar general and get some soap then.new surface seems fine but dust doesn't go away , places out west run just topsoil?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's mostly farmland... very little clay.

I remember one night at Deer Creek, they stopped time trials in the middle to rework the track. I didn't think that was right, considering if you were the last car to take time before the track prep break, the next guy out would have different conditions. But it was 100° that day.

One thing I will say though... they do take several breaks to keep on top of it, and it seems like a lot of breaks because we don't do that here. But they also have ample equipment to get the job done quickly, so it's usually just 15 minutes.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I have noticed a lot of facilities outside of ny utilize are packers with small tires. Whether it be a bunch of jeeps or blazers, or a large sled built with a bunch of tractor trailer tires and a concrete block on top of them. It always seemed odd that we here water a track and then use floatation tires to help force it into the track. They work more as a squeegee than anything. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, rpm72x said:

One thing I have noticed a lot of facilities outside of ny utilize are packers with small tires. Whether it be a bunch of jeeps or blazers, or a large sled built with a bunch of tractor trailer tires and a concrete block on top of them. It always seemed odd that we here water a track and then use floatation tires to help force it into the track. They work more as a squeegee than anything. 

For sale. $500 OBO. PM me.

f443e7ce010b81b52e30ffb20ecfa400-full.jp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, rpm72x said:

One thing I have noticed a lot of facilities outside of ny utilize are packers with small tires. Whether it be a bunch of jeeps or blazers, or a large sled built with a bunch of tractor trailer tires and a concrete block on top of them. It always seemed odd that we here water a track and then use floatation tires to help force it into the track. They work more as a squeegee than anything. 

What are flotation tires?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, DowntheBackStretch said:

What are flotation tires?

Really big tires....what you would see on a monster truck

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/27/2019 at 4:15 PM, rpm72x said:

One thing I have noticed a lot of facilities outside of ny utilize are packers with small tires. Whether it be a bunch of jeeps or blazers, or a large sled built with a bunch of tractor trailer tires and a concrete block on top of them. It always seemed odd that we here water a track and then use floatation tires to help force it into the track. They work more as a squeegee than anything. 

The old 4x4s and full size RWD cars like Crown Vics and Caprices is generally how they run tracks in around my way. Sometimes they throw late model tires on em. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
















×