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Denver drag strip gets a huge ventilated seat, er, surface

Mid-July temperatures in Denver often reach well into the 90s, which means that the surface temperature of the Bandimere Speedway drag strip can exceed 140 degrees. This is a big issue for the 7000-hp, nitromethane-powered monsters that annually compete at the track. But this weekend's Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals should be different, because it'll mark the first use of a track-cooling system during a top-level NHRA POWERade event.

During the off-season, the innovative track-chilling system was woven beneath 200 feet of Bandimere's racing surface to help ensure more consistent and grippy conditions. More than 15,000 feet of cooling lines were laid near the starting line (a.k.a. "launching pad"); two 12,000-gallon water tanks—one for each lane—feed the cooling system and are buried next to the track.

"Our first use of the track-cooling system showed a 15-degree reduction in track-surface temperature," Bandimere media relations man Jeff Sipes told us. "This was with 62-degree ground water. We have since added a chiller to further reduce water temperature and help dissipate the heat from the water that is taken from the track surface. We can now get the water to circulate in the high 30-degree range."

WeatherUnderground is predicting high temperatures of less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend at Bandimere, which is currently celebrating its fiftieth anniversary year, but the cooling system should add a welcome variable to the already-tricky racing conditions compounded by the thin Rocky Mountain air.

The bigger story of the race, however, is likely to be the application of the NHRA's decree that nitro cars will race to a finish line at 1000 feet, as opposed to the traditional quarter-mile distance of 1320 feet.

Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals racing action will be televised on ESPN2.

Photos provided by Bandimere Speedway/Pro-Motion, Ltd. Deb Rohr

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