Nov 7, 2002
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<BR><BR>Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>Blackhawk Farms Raceway, a nine-turn, 1.95-mile road course located adjacent to South Beloit, Illinois near the state's border with Wisconsin, is currently being repaved in preparation for the 2003 season.<BR><BR>"We are grinding the entire track down," Blackhawk Farms track manager/co-owner Ray Irwin, told Roadracingworld.com in a November 6 telephone interview. "The concrete corners are being removed, and we're overlaying them with two different layers of asphalt completely.<BR><BR>"We're probably leaving the original asphalt from way back when, actually the stuff that was probably there when we bought the place in 1986. We're grinding back down to that base, and then we're using what they call Petro-Mat over the cracks to keep it bound together to minimize, if not eliminate, the cross-track cracks that occur over time due to undulation of the ground, things like that. It will be overlaid, like I said, with two different levels of asphalt." Irwin said the repaving should help eliminate bumps and that the new top wear layer would be a slag-based compound of asphalt that should provide more grip and durability.<BR><BR>"We started tearing the track up this week," said Irwin. "We'll start laying the asphalt down in about 10 days, as soon as we get it cleaned up and ready to go." The new asphalt will cure all winter and be ready for Blackhawk Farms' season-opening date April 1, 2003.<BR><BR>Blackhawk Farms officials also intend to improve the paddock roads. "You can imagine that a 1.95-mile track and you take two, two-and-a-half inches off the whole top, you've got a lot of grinding," said Irwin. "Those grindings when they're re-compacted and rolled back out again have become access roads throughout the whole paddock. We've expanded the width of the road on the way in, virtually doubling it in width. We then completed the infield roads throughout the paddock area. So there's asphalt everywhere instead of the gravel areas that had to be maintained on a continuing basis, especially after rain. So that should be a significant improvement for anybody in any type of racing vehicle or even the street cars coming in and out. So it will not look at all the same as it did the last time people were here. There's asphalt everywhere."<BR><BR>Safety improvements were not included in the current round of upgrades at Blackhawk, but according to Irwin, safety has already been improved over the past two years. "We've done a significant amount of changes and improvements to (safety) in the last 24 months," said Irwin. "SCCA came in and mandated some safety issues needed to be addressed to bring it up to general standard. We did those changes last year - additional run-off areas, cleared a lot of brush back, put up tire barriers, stuff like that - to make it a lot safer. And generally whatever is safe for those guys is safe across the board. Bikes may not be as happy with it as say they would be with a 500-foot run-off, but they cannot get to the trees any longer. So that's a good thing."<BR><BR>When asked what was next on the agenda for Blackhawk Farms, Irwin said, "We've always got plans to do more, but I think this is enough for this year."<BR><BR>Blackhawk Farms hosts several rounds of the Championship Cup Series (CCS) along with riding schools each year and occasionally serves as a test track for Buell and Harley-Davidson, each less than 100 miles away. In fact, a television commercial featuring Tripp Nobles doing a smiley-face burnout on a Buell, which aired during 2001, was filmed on the front straightaway of Blackhawk Farms. For the record, Nobles said he only needed one shot to produce the smiley-face pattern on the pavement using the spinning rear tire.<BR>