A little bit of Bainbridge is in Daytona's track - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

A little bit of Bainbridge is in Daytona's track

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By LeiLani Golden - bio | email

BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) –A little bit of Bainbridge is about to become a big part of the world's most recognizable race track.

The Daytona International Speedway is undergoing a repaving project.

It will use 50-thousand tons of special asphalt made in Bainbridge.

In a small Bainbridge plant run by only nine employees, a little history is being made.

"This is sort of a special blend we're doing for them," says Greg Burke, an Ergon employee. "Each batch has a recipe and we follow the recipe just like baking a cake."

Ergon, a company specializing in paving materials, has developed a special mix of asphalt approved by Daytona for its world famous track.

"It has real elastic," Burke explains. "It expands and contracts. Cold weather or hot weather."

Which is important for a track under immense pressure from race cars, steep embankments, and extreme Florida heat.

To give you an idea of how much memory this asphalt has, this small sample can be stretched up to ten times its original size. And when I quit stretching, it goes right back to its original shape."

"There's not a lot of cracking or separation," says Burke. "The embankments and all are really high and this gives them a smoother surface to drive on. A lot safer. We feel like it will be because last year they had to repair the track and all that."

"For many many years there wasn't much science with asphalt," adds Mitch Comerford, a lab technician at Ergon. "But as time passed, the labs themselves have become computerized and it is a high technology. we can make a road or a highway or a racetrack that will last a long time."

Ironically, none of these workers has been to the Super Bowl of auto racing.

"I'd like to see it," Burke admits. "I've never been to a race track of that nature and I've heard it's pretty awesome."

Comerford agrees, "I'm hoping I can make it out this year and if I do it'll be an outing for me and my son. [Point out that daddy made part of that track?] Exactly!"

A point of pride these workers deserve to show off.

Two Ergon managers from Bainbridge went to Daytona Thursday to work out the paving logistics.

Although Ergon has produced that special mix of asphalt for other race track projects like Talladega's, it's the first time the Bainbridge plant is making it.

The Daytona International Speedway is known as the "world Center of Racing".

It is the largest outdoor stadium in Florida and one of the largest in the country.

It seats more than 168 thousand fans. One lap around the track is 2 and a half miles. It sits on a total of 480 acres.

Cars see speeds of 190 miles per hour, and motorcycles get up to around 170 miles per hour.

Driver Richard Petty has won the most victories at the track with seven wins.

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