Since its inception, the member clubs of Colorado Amateur Motorsport Associates (CAMA) have endeavored to provide the amateur racers in Colorado and beyond with a premier racing facility close to the Denver metro area. What started as an idea in the summer of 2003 matured into a truly unique accomplishment. In the spring of 2009 CAMA opened High Plains Raceway, the first and only racing facility in the United States that was 100% conceived, designed, financed, built, owned and operated by a group of amateur clubs. Throughout its first nine seasons of operations HPR has continued to improve in order to be Colorado’s premier racing facility. Additions have included:
- Bathroom and shower trailers
- Shaded gathering and viewing areas
- RV pedestals
- Concessions facilities
- Corner safety lights
- Closed circuit cameras
- Dedicated fire/rescue equipment
- Towing equipment
- Hot pit lighting, paved entry road and much, much more
In the background, however, plans were being made and funds set aside in order to make sure that we are being good stewards of the one thing that makes High Plains Raceway what it is, the one reason we all look forward to making that trip to our favorite playground an hour east of Denver – the track itself.
It is with great pleasure that CAMA announces the first major repaving project at High Plains Raceway. This project will result in new polymerized asphalt covering the full width of over 65% of the 2.55 mile full course and both of the “crossover” sections. As a result of this new pavement, participants will likely experience reduced tire wear, better traction, a smoother surface and (most importantly!) lower lap times. We hope that the new surface will also insure our long term financial success by rejuvenating excitement for clubs, racers and driving enthusiasts to visit and experience all that High Plains Raceway has to offer.
The diagram below illustrates what sections of the track will be new in 2018.
Portions of the track in black will be resurfaced with new polymerized asphalt the full width of the track. The portions of the track in orange will remain the original surface.
This project will involve milling off one-half inch of the old surface in order to prepare for the new asphalt. A one-and-a-half-inch layer of new asphalt will then be placed on top, adding one-inch of thickness to the surface overall. This additional thickness will add strength and longevity to the racing surface. Where the original paving was done with non-polymerized asphalt (due to circumstances beyond our control), the new surface will be polymerized. The addition of the polymer helps the asphalt resist the high shear forces present in racing that normal streets and highways don’t experience, further adding to the life of the new surface. The one-inch difference between the new and old surfaces will be tapered out over 150’ of track and will be barely perceptible. The existing curbs will be raised via “mud-jacking” to the new level of the racing surface.
To accomplish this project, High Plains Raceway will be closing on October 16, 2017 and will remain closed until at least the end of December to allow the new pavement to cure. Re-opening plans will be announced later in the year.
On behalf of the CAMA board of directors and the management of High Plains Raceway I would like to express our sincere thanks to the members of the CAMA clubs and to anyone who has ever participated in or even spectated one of our racing events, driving schools or open lapping days. YOU are the reason this track is here. YOU are the reason it has been an amazing success. YOU are the reason we are so excited to announce this project and present to you the NEW HIGH PLAINS RACEWAY!
High Plains Raceway
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Question: Why not pave the entire track?
Answer: In a word – money. Since the track opened we have been committed to saving money for repaving. When the clubs rent the track, in addition to the usual charges they also pay a “repaving surcharge” based on the number of vehicles that use the track each day. In addition to that, a percentage of each lapping day fee collected goes towards repaving as well. These funds are set aside in an account that is restricted to being spent on nothing but maintenance of the racing surface (or the curbs, runoff areas, etc). This is a significant project and not only will it consume 100% of the money in the restricted fund it will also consume a fair amount of the excess funds in our general savings as well. Essentially, this is the most we can repave without putting the track in financial jeopardy by depleting our cash reserves below an unsafe level.
Question: How did you determine which sections to pave?
Answer: Our goal was to address the areas of the track that are in the most need of repair. Turns 6, 8 and 13 were the worst of them all, having become a series of patches, and seams, and more patches and more seams, so they were the primary concern. There is also a drainage issue in turn 2 that needs to be addressed, and the bump at the end of the back straight (which has been mitigated successfully, but isn’t 100% cured). Obviously the corners wear faster than the straights so we started focusing on which were worn the most and the scope of the project kept increasing. With increasing amounts of asphalt comes lower costs per unit so it came down to how much can we afford. This project represents putting a new surface on nearly every corner on the track. The only turns that will not be new are 9a, 9b and 12. Because these are relatively gentle turns they have experienced less wear and are still in very good shape.
Question: Why pave the crossovers that see far less use than the rest of the track? Why not leave them and pave 9a, 9b and 12?
Answer: Because we are adding an inch of thickness to the surface, the transition from the old to the new needs to be tapered out over 150′ of distance so it isn’t too abrupt. The crossover from 8 to 13 is barely 350′ long, so having a 150′ tapered section on each end means only 50′ in the middle is left. The 4s to 8 crossover is less than 500′ long. The time and costs involved in the precision milling necessary to create the tapers means it’s cheaper to just pave them.
Question: Yeah, yeah, yeah….so, when can we drive on it???
Answer: The longer the pavement cures before being stressed, the longer it will last. Barring any surprises with the weather the paving will be completed before Halloween and the track will be closed until after Christmas. We’ll have more information about reopening as the time gets closer.
Question: So, how much is this costing the track? Will the prices go up next year?
Answer: The total cost is…a lot. Roughly the price of a very nice house in the suburbs. It’s a fact of life that things get more expensive each year, and yes, there will be an increase in 2018. The clubs that rent the track will see an increase that is inline with what they’ve seen each year since we opened, and there will be an increase in the repaving surcharge they pay so that we can be ready to do this again when it is eventually needed. Lapping day fees will increase as well, only our second increase since the track opened in 2009. From 2009 – 2013 the online price for a half day of lapping was $90. In 2014 it was increased to $100. This year it will increase to $120, with most of the increase going towards a greater percentage of the fee being set aside in the repaving fund. While this may seem like a steep increase, over the life of the facility it represents an increase of less than 3.3% per year. Hopefully we can all agree that increases are justified over time if having a rejuvenated facility when needed is the end result.
Question: What if I bought a prepaid lapping day card and was planning to use it after October 16?
Answer: All 2017 lapping day cards will be honored through March 25, 2018.
10/16/07 Day One Progress
Honestly, there’s nothing terribly exciting to report. The first step of the project is to raise via “mudjacking” (courtesy of Brian at Advanced Mudjacking) the existing curbs in the areas where the new asphalt will go in. This is because the new asphalt will add 1″ of thickness to the overall surface, and raising the existing curbs is a hell of a lot easier and less expensive than removing and replacing the curbs! They are working their way around and have a head start on the grinding crews who will start Wednesday morning.
Here are pics of the end result.
10/17/17 Day Two Progress
Once again, nothing terribly exciting. The mudjacking continued and is ahead of schedule. They had a previous commitment for 10/18 so they will not be here Wednesday but we knew ahead of time and built that into the timeline so it’s not a big deal. However, what DOES start tomorrow is the milling process and this is when big changes happen (and is also a definite point of no return, so please keep your fingers crossed for good weather over the next 7-8 days!). Like the mudjacking, they will start in Turn 1 and work their way around the track. All the milling should take three days, but they’ve set aside Saturday in case it runs long. Sunday is a day off and the paving starts Monday.
Here are a couple pics of the curb in Turn 10.
10/18/2017 Mid Day Update
The guys from Alpha Milling are cranking it out fast and furious. They started with Turns 1-3 this morning and we’re confident the drainage issue in Turn 2 has been mitigated. They just finished the area that starts at the braking zone for Turn 4 and ends after Turn 5. Likewise, the bump in the braking zone at Turn 4 should be gone. Now on to Turn 6!
Here’s a short clip that shows the pace of the milling machine. Granted, it’s only scuffing off 1/2″ but it moves right along!
10/19/17 Morning Update
Things are cranking along at a furious pace out here! The mudjacking crew is back and started in Turn 11. They should finish today.
The milling crew started in Turn 7 today. Their foreman is optimistic they will finish today. I’m skeptical, but obviously he’s been doing this a while. Maybe he plans to work till dark and didn’t mention it?
After the milling is complete they will send out a crew to fill cracks and seams. Instead of their normal process they are going to actually use a router to make the cracks larger and more uniform and then fill them with asphalt by hand. This gives us the best chance that the old cracks won’t “mirror” up through the new asphalt. My hat’s off to Kurt Musgrave at Martin Marietta, he’s putting a lot of thought and energy into making sure this job comes out perfectly.
More to come!
10/19/2017 Afternoon Update
Well, as usual, you should always listen to the experts. The milling crew will, in fact, finish today. They are putting the final touches on the Corkscrew right now. The mudjacking crew will be back again tomorrow to finish up some detail stuff. The crack filling crew foreman was here earlier and marked up a map of all the repairs for their crew and they will be here in the morning.
The paving is still scheduled to start Monday AM. Based on the weather forecast I want to start on Sunday but they have something else scheduled that day already, I’m twisting arms as hard as I can so we’ll see what happens.
Well, not a lot to report. Today was kind of a “detail” day. With the mudjacking done all that was left was to fill and finish the holes. The crack repair team was here most of the day. They routed out the cracks and filled them with asphalt. Even though they had a street sweeper here as part of the milling and I’m sure the cleanliness factor they left was “good enough” for a normal highway, there was still a fair amount of material and dust everywhere. I spent the day on the big John Deere sweeping and blowing off all the areas that were milled to insure that they are as clean as possible before the new asphalt is laid down. There was a noticeable difference after I was done and given how we will stress the new asphalt I figure every little bit counts.
Since everything finished ahead of schedule there isn’t anything to be done on Saturday. I wasn’t able to orchestrate paving on Sunday so the next update will be when the actual paving starts on Monday the 23rd.
10/23/17 Morning Update
It has begun! We’re starting a little late to allow the temps to rise to an acceptable level, but paving is underway. They are starting on the back straight and doing the areas furthest from the paddock first so that the trucks delivering the asphalt to the paving machine don’t have to drive over the new surface.
Turn 4 braking zone
10/23/17 Afternoon Update
Things are progressing, though not as quickly as hoped. The cool temps are causing clogging/feeding problems with a machine called a Shuttle Buggy and that is slowing things down a bit. We’re hoping to be done on Wednesday before the bottom falls out of the weather forecast…but as we all know that could also change massively between now and then. What they’re getting done does look awesome, though!
Between Turn 5 and 6
Turn 5 looking counter-race
10/23/17 End of Day Update
Things got better as the day went on and we reached a good stopping point. Looking to get an earlier jump on it tomorrow since all the equipment is in place and ready to go, hopefully the Shuttle Buggy will cooperate a bit more. Weather for Wednesday is looking better and better.
Braking zone into Turn 8
Turn 4 braking zone
Turn 8 looking counter-race
10/24/17 Mid Day Update
Things are clicking along pretty smoothly today, the weather is a bit warmer and the machines are working better. Right now we’re waiting on asphalt trucks that are stuck in Denver traffic. I’m doubtful we’ll be done Wednesday. Thursday and Friday look pretty crappy, so maybe Saturday. We’ll see.
Turn 4 braking zone looking counter-race
10/24/2017 Afternoon…errrr….Evening Update
I gotta hand it to the guys at Martin Marietta, they are not afraid of a hard days work. Last night we were here till after 8pm, mainly remedying problems with equipment from the cool temps and making sure things were ready to go for the morning. It’s now past 7:00pm and they JUST finished paving for the day. They’re basically like “Hey, the weather is cooperating so we’re gonna keep working as long as we can.” These guys are great!
Turn 7 looking counter-race
Top of the corkscrew looking counter-race
“Make hay while the sun shines”….and after it goes down, too!
10/25/17 Mid Day Update
The weather is cooperating and the Martin Marietta crew is rockin’ and rollin’! First up was finishing off the back straight as it leads into the cut-off at Turn 4S. We reconfigured the paving pattern differently than was done originally such that there are less seams to be crossed when running the “North Course” configuration, so it should be much smoother.
The start of the day. Entrance to Turn 4S.
The new Turn 4S, looking race direction. You can see that the inner “lane” follows turn 4S instead of going straight towards Turn 4.
The finished product, looking counter-race direction. No seams!
Turn 10, counter-race.
A panorama of the new outer lane between 10 and 11.
Turn 10 Completed
Turn 11 looking counter-race
Well, folks, that will be it for the updates for a few days as the weather forecast is looking quite poor for quality paving. Right now we’re thinking that we’ll be back out on Sunday the 29th, but we’re at the mercy of the Colorado weather so who knows. More to come!
10/28/17 Mid Day Update
The weather is marginal today but the crews are back at it! They’re gonna knock out as much as they can today, possibly finishing it all. If not, they’ll definitely finish tomorrow.
This is the outside lane of the crossover between Turns 8 and 13.
The front straight
10/28/17 Afternoon Update
We’re almost to the checkers! Here they are starting the final “pull”, which is drivers left from the front straight to the entrance of the back straight.
10/28/17 End of Day Update
Here we are headed into the final stretch, laying down the outside lane through the kink leading into the back straight.
And the paving is complete!
There’s still a days worth of detail work and cleanup left to do, but it’s late and everyone wants to get home. Tomorrow is a day off for everyone and we’ll be back for the finishing touches on Monday.
The crews are nearly finished with the cleanup and about to call it complete. In a couple days when the weather improves we’ll come out to drive a few laps and take detailed notes about any bumps that need to be addressed with a diamond grinder. We’ll take some cell phone video and post it on YouTube so everyone can get a look.
Well, it’s long overdue, but we FINALLY got out to run some test laps on the new surface. The original plan was to do it earlier in order to identify any bumps or rough joints that needed attention from the diamond grinder prior to opening to the public. We then learned that the preferred contractor (that has done this work for us in the past) is working out of state until after the new year, the pressure was off and we decided to simply stay off the pavement entirely.
Here’s a little teaser video, just because 🙂
So, what did the first laps “in anger” tell us? A lot!
- The surface is VERY good. Since the main goal was to simply look for bumps, etc rather than shooting for lap records, I didn’t even bother to sweep the track. After sitting unused for two months it was quite dirty. It’s also very green, with not an ounce of rubber laid down. Despite those factors, the times we were able to turn tell me that the track will be very fast. Not right away, mind you (anyone expecting to lay down record lap times at the customer appreciation day will be disappointed) but after the lapping days this spring get rid of the grit and lay down some rubber it will be golden.
- The surface is very smooth. Even the joints are better than I expected. The first thing we did today was to look for bumps methodically. I printed three track maps and labeled them “left”, “center”, and “right”. We then proceeded to drive a couple laps at a constant speed in the left lane, the center, and then the right lane, taking notes about the location and severity of the bumps. While I’m not saying we will not go ahead with the diamond grinding (because we will), there really isn’t anything out there that *NEEDS* to be ground. Meaning there aren’t any terrible joints out there. The bumps at the joints are no worse than the existing bumps/undulations that already exist in the back straight that wasn’t paved.
- The crossover sections are much better, making it even more feasible for the clubs to run alternate configurations if desired. The seam configuration where turn 4S peels off the back straight has been changed such that racers do not cross any joints going from the straight to the crossover, it’s butter smooth. Also, previously, the left side of the area where the turn 8 to turn 13 crossover pavement joined into the top of the corkscrew (turn 13) had a noticeable “dip” in it. Since this is where “the line” would be, it made using that crossover less than ideal. That dip is no longer an issue. As a result, I am suddenly a huge fan of the “short course” configuration. This is the configuration where you take both crossovers, lap length is 1.3 miles, the same as PPIR. The “west course”, where you use turns 4-8, then take the crossover to the corkscrew, is fun but you carry a lot more speed into the second crossover in the “short course” configuration and it’s a blast!
Hopefully we’ll get some moisture in the coming week and I’ll be able to get out there and scrub it with the brush to clean things up before the Customer Appreciation Days. The diamond grinding will be scheduled as soon as the contractor is available, and we’re looking forward to a great start to 2018 at the NEW HIGH PLAINS RACEWAY!