May 30, 2001
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By David Swarts<BR><BR>Weather, engineering and drainage problems have caused further construction delays at Rausch Creek Motorsports Park near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, according to a track spokesman. <BR><BR>After pushing back the grand opening and canceling events once already, Rausch Creek Motorsports Park issued a May 15 press release predicting a June 23 opening. But Rausch Creek General Manager Andrew Stutzman said that further delays are now anticipated.<BR><BR>"We're gonna shoot for the first CCS race of July," said Stutzman, reached on his cell phone while on the construction site at Rausch Creek May 29. "Again that's hoping that everything goes well putting the pipes in. That's what we're shooting for, the middle of July."<BR><BR>Pushing the opening back again will force the cancelation of only one additional motorcycle-related event. "I spoke with Reg (Pridmore) at CLASS, and we're going to re-schedule that (June 23-25) for October," said Stutzman.<BR><BR>But with other proposed opening dates already missed, exactly where in the construction process is Rausch Creek?<BR><BR>"We're putting the pipes in right now to get the drainage just right," an out-of--breath Stutzman said, sounding as if he had been personally installing the plumbing. "The current line of the track is in final grade where it needs to be. The <BR>next step is to finish the pipe for the drainage. Then we are ready to put the stone (base) down. We had a little bit of rain these last couple of days from last week left over, but we're back working full crews again starting today. Things are coming along again.<BR><BR>"What happened over the winter time, it would freeze, then it would rain a little bit and thaw, then freeze again. What it did was turn everything into this wonderful little mud soup. The problem was, we could move it around, but we couldn't gain the levels of compaction that we needed to put it down as the base. It wasn't holding its shape basically. There is a lot of clay in this soil, and clay doesn't compact ideally the way that you would like it. So we've had to move some earth around, pull some earth out and put some different material in. When that clay gets wet there, it doesn't hold its shape like it needs to.<BR><BR>"So we had to kind of wait and sit. It was about four weeks that they actually couldn't do anything. That was at the end of March--beginning of April. Once it dried out and we were able to get everything where it needs to be as far as the compaction, we started rolling along again. We're probably about two weeks away from putting the stone bed down which is the first step toward the asphalt." Once the paving starts, the wear layer will be applied in one, continuous, 24-hour paving to prevent having more than one seam in the asphalt, Stutzman said.<BR><BR>But before things got rolling full speed again, a drainage problem had to be solved. "The problem is when you draw up all the run-off area, off of the track will continue the same grade as the track surface itself," said Stutzman. "Now what happens when you do it that way, which the FIM and the FIA and pretty much everybody really likes because you continue that same grade when you go off into the run-off area, the only problem is for the water for the drainage. Of course, the water wants to run down and right over the track surface then. That's the problem with the engineering. If you get the drainage just right and to also make sure you can continue the run-off area the same degree as what you come off the track so there's no big drop or sudden uphill. That's always the problem is finding that compromise between the two of those conditions. It's the hardest thing to do."<BR><BR>The timing between the latest construction delay and Rausch Creek's press release saying that they were seeking "major track sponsorship" led some concerned parties to wonder if the privatly-funded track had run into financial difficulties.<BR><BR>"Basically what the sponsorship, or equity partner whomever that may be whether it's a company or an individual, is basically gonna get us a jump start on getting the hotels and getting the garage building built," said Stutzman. "Basically, we're set with the funds that we have to put the track in itself and the paddock area. What I would like to do, because we are a little behind now because of the construction and things, I would like to get some of that money together to get the building built, get the control tower in, run as short a period of time as we can with the temporary buildings, and get the permanent things up and ready to go. We'll be okay with the track surface itself and the paddock area, but with the possibility of an AMA Superbike race next year, it would be nice to have some more of the ammenities in place right away. That's what we're searching for.<BR><BR>"Also, another part of it is we're looking to build…we're considering the main racing circuit here the North track. We want to build a South track that would connect to the North. Because there's so much interest in this area for motorsports, we could easily book two tracks at the same time on different track days and such. We're just looking at the quicker we can get that South track built, the more revenue we can bring in right away. With the amount of different bike clubs and car clubs and everything else that's around there's definitely demand out there for a two-track system you know kind of like VIR (Virginia International Raceway) has. You can connect it all as one, if you ever wanted something that large, or you have the one <BR>circuit that's your primary racing circuit then your other circuit is your track day, lapping day kind of thing.<BR><BR>"We've briefly been speaking with an organization, I guess you could call them a broker, that goes out and searchs. They match up companies with sponsors and put deals together. This one group we've just started to look at, they do a lot of NASCAR packages. So that's intresting. Not that we're looking for any kind of NASCAR events here, but as far as marketing goes, NASCAR has done the best job of anybody in the motorsports business of the last 10 or 20 years getting together what they've got going right now. I can't name (the organization) as of yet. We haven't signed the agreement to officially start together. But hopefully we'll get that nailed down, and they can start going through the contract negotiations so that we can get that hammered out. They are a company that's been very active in NASCAR. We've taken a look at that, and it's kind of unparalleled.<BR><BR>"Pirelli has shown some interest in getting on the bridge. We're going to have a pedestrian bridge here. So we've kind of just started to get some interest back on that. I was excited to see Pirelli, being I guess their local office is here in Pennsylvania, so that's nice to see local companies take interest in it."<BR><BR>Stutzman added that he will racing his Honda CBR600F4i in the WERA National Endurance race at VIR Friday, June 15. "I don't get out to race very much anymore. So when I go, I'm going to get all of the track time that I can," said Stutzman.