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Dallas SX Track Update

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For the first time ever a supercross race is going to be held in a billion-dollar stadium, with the Dallas Supercross going off in Arlington’s new Cowboys Stadium. Completed in 2009 at an astonishing cost of $1.3 billion, it’s the world’s largest domed (and retractable, at that) stadium. We caught up with Dirt Wurx USA boss Rich Winkler, the man in charge of building this weekend’s track, for an update on what’s happening with this historic construction.

  • The Dirt Wurx crew will see their fair share of Tony Romo highlights this week.
Racer X: Hey, Rich, how are things looking over at Cowboys Stadium?
Rich Winkler: So far we’re liking this new place much better than Texas Stadium. It’s pouring rain today and we’ve got a roof!

Is this new stadium everything they’ve made it out to be?
It’s beautiful, seriously. We just started moving the dirt in Tuesday afternoon. Had a bit of a delay because they had a fight here this past weekend [Pacquiao vs. Clottey] and had to move all the temporary seats off the floor [some 30,000] on Monday. The building’s very user-friendly as far as access in and out with the trucks goes, so things are moving quickly. It’ll actually be an easy move-in versus some of the other ball-sports-specific venues we go to.

Has the staff at Cowboys Stadium been receptive to the supercross tour coming to town?
For sure. Most of the guys came over from Texas Stadium, who Dirt Wurx and Feld Motor Sports are all familiar with. So they’re making it easy on us.

Have you run into any issues at all with the move-in? Things like dust from the trucks that the management of Cowboys Stadium might be concerned with?
The stadium itself, the operations guys – Glenn Kimball and Bruce Hardy – they’re very familiar with dirt events, and they realize there’s a certain amount of mess that’s associated with this kind of event that’s unavoidable. And one thing we’ve had to deal with at Cowboys Stadium that we’ve never experienced at any other stadium we’ve been to are these private boxes located right on the sidelines of the playing field. So there’s a substantial cleanup required before they even allow people into the building. That said, we just couldn’t go gangbusters bringing dirt in and out of here. We had to take extra precaution to keep the dust down. And even with the dirt being wet, trucks running around on the concrete floor tend to raise dust. So we’ve kept the speed limit of the trucks down to 5 mph and a labor crew with brooms, mechanical sweepers, and a watering truck keeping the dust down all the while the trucks are running.

{LINKS}Are people going to be able to watch the race from those field-level seats?
I don’t know about 100 percent of the suites, as most of them will be covered by the sideline sponsor banners. The Feld guys have already put up a latticework of cable and rope that’ll support the banners, because there’s not a traditional wall and railing like there is in most of the stadiums we go to. In this case, the suites themselves are actually sub-grade, or below the playing field. And those seats would have had to been killed for safety reasons anyway.

Is this the most technical track build you’ve had this year, for the track itself?
Generally, as we go further into the year, the tracks tend to get a little more technical, a little more difficult. The Dallas track is quite busy. The frequency of the obstacles is severe as compared to some of the earlier rounds. This should force some more thinking about timing with the racers, thinking about the rhythm of the lanes. But it could be they’ll figure out something we didn’t see and jump three times down the whole lane – we’ll just have to wait and see. As of now, it’ll be one of the most technical tracks we’ve had thus far. A lot of choice going on with high-frequency obstacles.
Is the footprint of the stadium larger than the other stadiums Monster Supercross has been to this year?
Nah, it’s a fairly standard shape, similar to Indy, St. Louis, or Atlanta.

We understand you got all new dirt for this year.
Anybody that’s been to the Texas event in the past knows the dirt we were using at Texas Stadium in the past was this gnarly Texas clay. Whatever loam or sand it once had all since went out of the stadium on the underside of racers’ fenders and things. Nothing was left but the modeling clay. It was no fun to build, as you could imagine trying to shape things out of basketball-size clay clumps, which very quickly became blue-groove for the racers. Since we were moving to a new stadium, Feld Motor Sports felt there was certainly no sense in moving that dirt over here, so we scouted out some really nice stuff that’ll only have been used a few times before this weekend [Nuclear Cowboyz, a rodeo, and Monster Jam]. It’s a nice red, sandy clay mix that’s probably similar to Atlanta – a little more clay but really easy to work with. Should be good traction.

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And how’s that big TV there looking? Will that be pretty cool for the fans to watch the race on the floor as well as above it?
It’s just massive. They’ve been playing Cowboys football highlights on it during the dirt move-in, and it’s just amazing. Twice as big as anything I’ve seen before, and the clarity’s unbelievable. To be here live, and not only see the event live but also the action up on the screen at the same time, will be a pretty cool combination of perspectives for the fans this weekend.

The place holds more than 100,000 [105,121 for football to be exact]. Do you think we’ll see a record crowd this weekend for supercross?
Ticket sales is outside my dirty little world here [laughs], but yeah, the points races in both classes are tight and the battles in both classes have been great. So if I was a fan, Dallas is where I’d like to be this weekend.

This weekend’s Dallas Supercross airs on Speed TV this Sunday, March 21 at 5 p.m. EST (SX Lites) and 6 p.m. EST (SX).

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