Speedway to build expanded Cup Series garage

DOVER — The garage area at Dover International Speedway is the last place a driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wants to end up during a race.

If he does, it means the driver has probably crashed into something or suffered a part failure that ruined his chance of winning.

However, track officials are prepared to make the Cup garage area a much more comfortable place for pit crews and the high-speed daredevil pilots in preparation of those Sunday Monster Energy Cup Series events at the speedway known as the “Monster Mile.”

Dover International Speedway announced Monday that a new and expanded $5.5 million Cup Series garage will be built not long after the checkered flag waves on Sunday’s Gander RV 400 on the race track’s demanding one-mile, high-banked layout.

The construction will give pit crew members a little bit more elbow room with which to turn those wrenches and crawl under the high-powered cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series following this weekend’s tripleheader of racing action at the speedway.

Work is expected to begin next Tuesday and be completed within five months on Sept. 20, before NASCAR returns to Dover’s one-mile, concrete oval for its Oct. 4-6 race weekend.

Mike Tatoian, president and CEO of Dover International Speedway, said it has taken a little longer than expected, but the expansion of the garage is finally at hand.

“Back in 2007, we announced our ‘Monster Makeover’ capital improvement plan for the speedway which ostensibly was fan-amenity related,” Mr. Tatoian said. “While our plan was to have this plan completed a few years ago, for the continued safety of the drivers it was necessary to shift our focus toward making improvements inside the track with new safer wall, retaining walls and a catch fence.

“We now are in a position to finish what we started a while ago.”

The new, expanded Cup Series garage area will still be located between the first and second turns, however, there will be a bigger footprint since the walls will be pushed out closer to the race track in Turn 1 and 2 and the garage will be re-positioned between the first and second turns. The current garage area has been in place since Dover International Speedway hosted its first race, the Mason-Dixon 300, on July 6, 1969.

The new “Monster Garage” at Dover was designed by Dover-based Becker-Morgan Architects and will be built by Smyrna’s Kent Construction.

Jeff Opdyke, of Dover, paints the start/finish line at Dover International Speedway with gold paint Monday in honor of the race track’s 50th anniversary. The speedway will celebrate this weekend with a NASCAR tripleheader highlighted by Sunday’s running of the Gander RV 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

The garage will feature expanded square footage, going to 23,100-square-feet from 18,400, which marks a 20-percent increase, and includes 44 large garage bays (15-foot by 30-foot) with individual garage doors for cars and teams. Raynor Garage Doors, a partner of Dover International Speedway, is providing the garage doors for the project.

The garage will include an Allied Steel Building, a corporate partner of the speedway that is the sponsor of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash race that will take place on Saturday.

Due to the expansion of the garage area, Mr. Tatoian said the existing guardrail fencing that faces the first and second turns will be removed, along with the grassy areas inside the turns. The area inside the apron will now be fully paved, with SAFER barriers covering the entire length of the inside walls of Turns 1 and 2.
“This project will enlarge the Cup Garage as large as we can physically can,” Mr. Tatoian said. “As a result, there will be more room for the competitors, their teams and NASCAR to do their job.”

When Dover’s “Monster Makeover” project was originally announced more than a decade ago, track officials had envisioned making the Cup Series garage more of a race team-viewing amenity for the fans, such as projects that have taken place at tracks such as Daytona, Las Vegas and Richmond.

While the new garage will be easier for fans and others to maneuver through, it has been designed more with the race teams in mind.

“The improvement primarily benefits the NASCAR teams and our sanctioning body, but a by-product of enlarging the garage, as much as we physically can as a result of the harness track, will create a safer environment for our fans and an opportunity to see the teams working on the cars a little easier,” said Mr. Tatoian.

First, Dover will have to get through this weekend’s 50th anniversary at Dover NASCAR tripleheader, which includes Friday’s Jegs 200 Gander Outdoors Truck Series race, Saturday’s Allied Steel Buildings 200 Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash Race and Sunday’s Gander RV 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

The garage construction promises to take place in time for the Monster Energy Cup Series playoff race at Dover on Sunday, Oct. 6, which will be the 100th NASCAR Cup Series race in track history. Dover International Speedway will become the 10th track in the nation to host 100 or more Cup Series races.

“Our team is working hard to make 2019 the biggest year yet at Dover International Speedway,” Mr. Tatoian said. “For 50 years, the Monster Mile has been providing challenges for top drivers, excitement for our fans and terrific memories for all in attendance. Our 2019 celebrations, events and races will offer the perfect kickoff for our next fifty years of racing.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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