Shutting a race track down for the winter involves much more than turning out the lights and locking the gates following the final checkered flag of the season.
In fact, winterizing any race track, no matter its location, size or type of racing surface, is a monumental task that if not done properly will result in major headaches when it’s time to re-fire the racing engines.
“You’ve got to wrap, tarp, shrink wrap and winterize just about everything you can think of,” said John Zudell, vice president of operations and development at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “It doesn’t make for exciting reading, but we’ve got a checklist of nearly 200 items that have to be done.”
While his checklist is not quite as long, Larry Boos, director of operations at Eldora Speedway, says it takes approximately three weeks to winterize the legendary half-mile dirt track in Rossburg, Ohio.
“You go through the campgrounds first. We remove all the trash barrels, clean those up and store them inside for the winter,” Boos said, noting that he hires an outside crew to help with the winterizing process. “Then we go through and complete the parking lot by taking down all of the signage so it is weather protected. Then we kind of analyze the parking lot and determine while it’s still dry whether we need to do any maintenance to the driveways — dragging them, adding more stone or anything like that. It’s doing as much fall work in anticipation of the wet spring that we can possibly do.
“Once we get that done, we go inside and it’s much of the same, taking care of all the trash barrels, signage and things like that. Then we winterize the plumbing,” Boos added. “Every track has a different water system, but ours was put in as a gravity-type deal, which means that once we turn the water off and open the valves at the end, everything drains out. Finally, we have to go through all the toilets in the restrooms and suites and fill them with anti-freeze.”
In the concession areas, Boos said, “It’s clean, clean, clean. We go through and get everything completely cleaned out and completely drain everything. We shut down all of the freezers and refrigerators and we also bring in the soft-drink suppliers and they winterize their lines. It is a lot of little detail work.”
Eldora’s track surface receives special attention.
“We kind of prepare it as if we are getting ready for next season,” Boos explained. “We completely revamp the track surface, grade it down and sheeps-foot it. We kind of leave it open, so the moisture can get down into the track throughout the winter.”