Transforming Bristol Speedway into college football’s biggest stage

September 15, 2016

bristol-speedway-1Tennessee and Virginia Tech met Sept. 10 at the Bristol Motor Speedway, located approximately halfway between the two campuses, for a football match-up unlike any other that weekend.

The showdown dubbed the “Battle at Bristol” drew a record-breaking crowd of more than 150,000 fans, effectively shattering the current NCAA single-game record of 115,109 at Michigan Stadium when the Wolverines beat Notre Dame in 2013, SB Nation stated. But that wasn’t the only major accomplishment of this project.

Following the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, crews had 19 days to work their magic on the track to turn it into a makeshift football stadium, according to The Washington Post.

The day after the race, 450 truckloads of rock and manufactured sand evened out the speedway’s bowl-shaped infield, with more than 100,000 square feet of AstroTurf brought in to form the actual field, Popular Mechanics reported.

The first step in building a new football field in the racetrack’s infield involved putting down a heavy-duty fabric barrier, a protective layer to prevent material from filling pipes. Then 450 truckloads of rock and manufactured sand weighing more than 10,600 tons built up the infield three-and-a-half feet, Jerry Caldwell, general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, told Popular Mechanics. Bristol’s infield sloped to the middle but a football field needs a slope to the outside; Caldwell says making the switch required nine days of work. The field’s sub-base was compacted to millimeter-level accuracy.

bristol-speedway-2Next, AstroTurf’s 3D3 playing surface was placed on top of the sand and rock, featuring a shorter, denser turf carpet that uses more fiber and requires less infill than other surfaces.

In all, more than 100,200 square feet of surface was prepped at a height of 1.5 inches, filled with more than 180,000 pounds each of silica and rubber infill, according to The Washington Post article.

To complete the transformation, more than 5,000 seats had to be added.

But what about the scoreboard? Having two at either end zone wouldn’t work that well, so Bristol used its “Colossus.” As noted by NPR, the massive overhead scoreboard features screens 68 feet wide and 30 feet tall.

Check out this time-lapse from Bristol Motor Speedway to see the 19-day transformation.

Photos: YouTube

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