Phoenix Raceway announces $178m renovation project due in Fall ’18

Phoenix International Raceway

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

With “Daytona Rising” complete, International Speedway Corp. (ISC) is moving on to another project.

Next up: Phoenix Raceway.

The two entities announced Monday their plans for a $178 million makeover over the next two seasons that will change nearly everything in the aging facility save for the racing surface itself.

The most notable changes for fans come on the track and grandstands, where the focal point will be moved from the current frontstretch over to the one-mile oval’s second turn and signature dogleg.

The current grandstands will be removed, replaced with sets of stands through PIR’s current Turns 1 & 2 and down the current backstretch in a move that should keep fans from staring into direct sunlight during the race.

Instead of the current bleacher setup, the new grandstands will aim for a luxury approach, boasting escalators, elevators, complementary wifi and individual 20-inch seats with armrests. The seating capacity is expected to run at roughly 45,000 seats when the project is complete.

To accommodate the movement, PIR plans to expand the track’s accessibility to the facility’s new focal point with moves on, around and under Turn 2.

In the biggest news for the racing product itself, the start-finish line is to be moved to what is currently the exit of Turn 2, just before the dogleg.

PIR intends to move the track’s midway to the area surrounding the new grandstands, and in doing so add a new pedestrian tunnel under the track to connect the new seating area to the infield.

In a move that the teams will appreciate, the infield will also be modified, changing the garage area and pit road. In addition, PIR intends to replace the infield’s current medical center, update the media center and add a new fan zone.

“This is a great day for ISC and Phoenix International Raceway, but more importantly, for racing fans in the state of Arizona and around the world,” ISC CEO Lesa France Kennedy said in a press release. “It’s a true pleasure to begin work on this project designed to enhance the experience of the great fans who love to watch our races in Phoenix and enjoy this beautiful area.

“Having Phoenix Raceway within our prestigious stable of venues always has been a tremendous asset and source of pride for us. We are thrilled to create a best-in-class facility in Phoenix, and we’re confident it will grow the fan base here and further serve as a destination track for motorsports fans everywhere.”

The renovations are expected to be completed by Fall 2018, costing less than half of the $400 million spent on Daytona International Speedway’s “Daytona Rising” project. DC Solar, who currently sponsors XFINITY Series driver Brennan Poole, will serve as the title sponsor for the project, as well as the new Midway.

“When our project is completed, we will have a venue that delivers amazing fan experiences to go along with our reputation for great racing action,” track president Bryan R. Sperber said. “By shifting the start/finish line to Phoenix Raceway’s famed dog leg, fans will be perfectly positions to watch one of the most exciting turns in motorsports.

“We are confident The Phoenix Racing Project powered by DC Solar will put racing in Arizona in a whole new and exciting light.”

Phoenix currently hosts two NASCAR weekends per year. The facility also hosted the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return in 2016, and will host USAC Silver Crown in 2017.

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