NASCAR

Dover jumping into off-season with safety improvements

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Jeff Gordon just won the AAA 400 and four drivers were eliminated from Championship eligibility. Did the guys at Dover sit back and take in the end of their race season while watching the confetti from Sunday's victory lane celebration blow in the wind? Nope! They started tearing stuff down. The track, often referred to as the Monster Mile, is showing its soft side when it comes to driver and fan safety.

Dover International Speedway has hosted its two race weekends for the 2014 season. Instead of taking a vacation and waiting for next season the crew at the track has set its eyes on making safety improvements. A brand new catch fence will be in place by the first of the year well before the next NASCAR event at the track. According to speedway officials the expected completion date is set for January 1, 2015.

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Dover International Speedway officials said that they didn’t waste any time in starting the project. They announced that the actual process of removing the current safety catch fence began on Monday following the running of the “AAA 400” in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The race was the final race in the first three-race portion of the Championship Chase.

Never Airborne

Dover is keeping ahead of the curve when it comes to safety with the replacement of the aged catch fence. There has never been a case of a race car becoming airborne and impacting the fence at the facility but according to the facilities Executive Vice President that’s not a reason to make sure all precautions are taken when it comes to fan safety.

“Because the track is known as a self-clearing racetrack, with steep banking, we are fortunate to have never had a NASCAR vehicle become airborne and hit the catch fence,” said Michael Tatoian, executive vice president and COO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. “With that in mind, our current fence served us well.”

Improvements

The preliminary work on installing the new catch fence at the Monster Mile started over the course of the summer. Work crews completed drilling for the support structures that will hold the fence. As soon as the race weekend was over demolition of the old fence began. Construction of the new fence started at the same time.

The new fence will be installed by Smith Fence which is a Florida-based contractor that has performed similar installations at other facilities on the NASCAR circuit. According to a track statement the project will “incorporate the most up-to-date technologies and stand at 21-feet tall, up from its current 15-feet.”

“As with anything at our facility, we’ve been looking for some time to update and improve it,” Tatoian said. “With all of the new technologies and safety advances made in safety fencing, we wanted to do this right.”

Other improvements at the track centered around safety over the last few years included the installation of SAFER Barriers, the redesign and widening of pit row to allow more space, and a revamped infield care facility.

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