Lowe's installation to be done by May
Lowe's Motor Speedway will install soft wall barriers in time for the track's May slate of NASCAR races.
The track north of Charlotte originally planned to have the steel and foam energy-reducing wall, or SAFER barriers, installed in time for its October NASCAR races.
Track president Humpy Wheeler said that after officials determined where along the 1.5-mile track the barriers needed to be placed, they realized they could have the work done in time for the May events.
"We said, 'Well, we know where it goes. Now can we jump in front of other tracks because there's a line of tracks waiting to have them put in"' Wheeler said.
By working nights, construction officials said they could install the barriers in time for the May races, Wheeler added.
Texas Motor Speedway, another track owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc., also announced this week that it will install SAFER barriers, but not in time for its NASCAR Nextel Cup race on April 4.
The race schedule at LMS begins with a truck race on May 22 and concludes with the Coca-Cola 600 on May 30.
The speedway will put the barriers in front of nearly 4,000 feet of outside walls in the turns on the 1½-mile oval. That will include 1,351 feet of the outside wall of the frontstretch trioval and nearly 800 feet of walls on the inside of the track off of turns two and four.
It will take about three weeks to install the barriers.
SAFER barriers use foam blocks stacked behind rolled steel tubing to absorb some of the energy when race cars slam into the walls at high speed.
The barriers first were installed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; other tracks have followed suit. They were in place for last weekend's events at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
NASCAR president Mike Helton said it is the sanctioning body's goal to have the barriers in place at all tracks where their installation is recommended before next season.
"Nobody likes to crash; that's no fun, believe me," said Cup driver Ken Schrader. "But knowing that if you do hit something there's going to be less of an impact, that's comforting. It doesn't make crashing any more fun, but it makes you feel a little better about it happening."
NASCAR team owner and former driver Richard Childress rubbed elbows with some big names in business and academia this week.
He was the guest speaker of the Harvard Business School Club of Atlanta's Leadership Breakfast Series.
"The lineup of people who have spoken to the group in the past and those that are already scheduled to speak is a Who's Who of the corporate world and, for me to be invited, speaks a lot about where NASCAR is able to go today," Childress said.
Childress told the group about the business of NASCAR and running an operation that fields cars in three series and employees 280 people.
"Richard is hardly in the mold of most of the speakers we have, most of whom are CEOs of major corporations, or people who are leaders in government, university presidents and so on," said Roger Orloff, president of The Acquisition Search Corporation and a club officer. "So, it was a very different kind of meeting for us, but it was remarkably good.
"It appeared to me that we had a real mixture of rabid NASCAR fans and people who didn't know the first thing about it and were there out of curiosity or for other reasons," Orloff added. "I think he managed to send all of them away happy, feeling that they'd really gotten something out of the meeting."
Childress was invited to participate by Daryl Evans, a member of the club and a vice president at Cingular Wireless, the sponsor of Richard Childress Racing's No. 31 Chevrolet in Nextel Cup.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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