Fewer seats at Dover, but a new catch fence and flagstand

Standing 21 feet high, the $2.9 million safety catch fence replaced the original 15-foot fence. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Standing 21 feet high, the $2.9 million safety catch fence replaced the original 15-foot fence. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — Racing fans heading to the Monster Mile will notice some major differences in the track’s appearance since last fall’s race.

The largest and most noticeable change is the removal of seats in turns two and three. Where thousands of seats used to line up, there now is only empty space.

“We needed to scale down and in doing that we chose to remove the least desirable seats and only leave the best viewing options for the fans,” Mike Tatoian, president and CEO of Dover International Speedway, said.

In turn two, 9,500 seats were removed and in turn three, 7,400 seats are gone. In turn two, the entire structure was taken out, all the way to the ground, but at turn three, only the stands were taken out and a concrete structure now remains. The concrete previously was used to separate the stands’ two levels.

“We are working with consultants to decide what to do with the concrete deck that remains at turn three,” Mr. Tatoian said. “We are looking to add something unique that will enhance the fan experience and we hope to come to a decision soon.”

Although the thousands of seats removed might make it seem as though the facility may not be able to hold very many fans anymore, there is still room for more than 95,500 attendees.

Before this fall’s race, the speedway plans on removing an additional chunk of seating, bringing the capacity down to around 87,000.

The second largest endeavor the speedway undertook during the off season was the replacement of the catch fence surrounding the track.

The catch fence is a chain link fence used for both fans’ and drivers’ safety. It keeps errant cars and debris inside the track rather than flying up into the stands.

“Before we replaced the fence, the one in place was what was originally installed with the track back in 1969,” Mr. Tatoian said. “We had never had any safety issues with it, but since it was so old, it was just time for it to be replaced.”

Smith Fence, a Florida-based contractor, installed the new 21-foot high fence. The company has done similar installations at other facilities on the NASCAR circuit. The fence replaces the original 15-foot one.

The removal of the old fence and installation of the new one was a $2.9 million project.

Along with the new fence comes a new flagstand. It replaces the original one installed in 1968 on the backstretch and then moved to its frontstretch location in 1970.

The new stand rises 13 feet above the racing surface. The 4- by 9.5-foot platform can accommodate approximately five people. Caution lights are mounted underneath.

For ticket information for today’s XFINITY and Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, visit www.doverspeedway.com

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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