NASCAR’s Chairman and CEO Brian France went to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in 2012 and asked them to develop a means to shorten the delay caused by rain.
On Tuesday, NASCAR announced Phase 1 of France’s vision, dubbed the Air Titan, a track drying system that will debut at The Sprint Unlimited on Saturday night and continuing throughout Speedweeks at Daytona. Air Titan will reduce track drying time by 80%, improve the racing product and enhance the fan experience for those at the track and watching at home.
Using compressed air, the Air Titan efficiently and reliably pushes water off of the racing surface and onto the apron where vacuum trucks will remove the remainder of the moisture. Jet dryers will follow each Air Titan™, drying any excess water that remains on the racing surface. The Air Titan operates on diesel fuel, which burns 100 gallons in nine to 10 hours. Jet fuel burns at a rate of about 100 gallons per hour.
As you may recall the 2012 Daytona 500 was the first to be delayed by rain and when it finally ran on Monday night, it was delayed two hours because of a massive fire sparked by the No. 42 driven by Juan Pablo Montoya’s collision with a jet dryer as it removed debris under caution. (See video below)
Steve O’Donnell, vice president of racing operations for NASCAR, says Daytona’s 2.5-mile oval could be dried in 30 minutes with the Air Titan instead of the usual 2.5 hours with the jet dryers. After Phase 1 is complete, there is no indefinite decision on when it would return back to the track.