ISM Raceway is still under construction as it prepares to host two NASCAR races this weekend. But have no fear, as track president Bryan Sperber says the $178 million renovation project is both on time and on budget. A majority of the work will be completed over the summer, with the grand opening scheduled ahead of ISM Raceway’s playoff race in November.
But for this weekend, ISM Raceway will celebrate its last race on the current configuration.
“Pit road will be moved back into the infield and the start/finish line will be over toward our famous dogleg turn, which is one of the most exciting turns in all of racing,” said Sperber. “But what I think has been lost in all that is the restart zone will move into what’s [Turns] 1 and 2 today and I believe we’re going to be the only track that will have a restart zone in a turn and start/finish right at the dogleg.
“I was showing Dale Earnhardt Jr., and he said, ‘I mean this in a good way, but this will be chaos.’ And I couldn’t agree more with him.”
Among the projects already completed are suites and bar areas. The north canyon will also be open, which houses escalators. An “incredible transformation” is how Sperber described the current state of the facility.
When all is said and done, ISM Raceway will not only have changed its track layout but remodeled its infield, fan zone, and opened a new grandstand. Fans will also have the opportunity to look in at the driver’s meeting and inspection, as well as have access to victory lane.
“When they arrive at the fan zone, what they are going to notice first and foremost it is not a typical working garage,” said Sperber. “It’s going to feel very much like an entertainment zone.”
“This has been an idea, a concept, for many years working with our architects and designers,” Sperber continued. “You look at renderings and drawings about concepts, and once you break ground and start to see the steel and concrete go into place it becomes real. And I think, particularly in the fall when our fans were on the property with the construction work under way, they started to get really excited about it and their energy helps fuel our energy, too.”