New dryers to be unveiled at Daytona

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR will unveil next month at Daytona International Speedway a piece of equipment that could revolutionize track drying.

Twenty-four machines will be ready for Speedweeks events leading up to the Feb. 24 Daytona 500, executive Steve O'Donnell said.

The equipment will rely on compressed air moving water off the track in a squeegee effect as opposed to traditional jet dryers that blow hot air onto the track.

It also will include vacuums that will work in conjunction with the compressed air that would help dry a 2.5-mile track such as DIS in about 30 minutes -- 20 percent of the current time.

DIS typically takes about two-and-a-half hours to dry. Last year's Daytona 500 was delayed until Monday night because of rain.

"There's a few faces out here that will remember when we used to dry tracks off with just a fleet of vehicles going around the racetrack, or dragging tires behind pickup trucks,'' NASCAR president Mike Helton said. "And then someone came along with the jet dryer that expedited it quite a bit and served its purpose for a long period of time.

"But in today's world with the expectations of getting the show done and getting it on, there was a high priority placed by [chairman] Brian [France] and the rest of us to come up with a way that we could expedite that. The R & D Center responded to that and came up with ideas, and this one seems to have quite a bit of validity to it.''

O'Donnell said the new device does not have a name yet. Unlike jet dryers, which were owned by individual tracks, he said the governing body has a patent on the new machine that gives it proprietary rights.

O'Donnell said the equipment isn't quite to the level of efficiency that France asked for.

Because of that, jet dryers also will be used at Daytona and perhaps ensuing races to help with the drying process.

O'Donnell said the equipment could revolutionize the drying procedure for other venues in sports.