Three Tymco sweepers took to the track at dawn on November 18, completing the final preparations for the first Formula One race in the United States since 2007. The Circuit of The Americas F1 facility is located in Wandering Creek, TX, southeast of Austin. With so much at stake, the pressure was on for crews to successfully complete the important task of sweeping the track before drivers took to their cars.
The site is 900 acres with grandstands, semi-permanent stands and natural seating for over 120,000 fans to attend the Grand Prix, and the construction began in January 2011. Running counterclockwise, the track is 3.4 miles and has 20 turns.
Chris Collins, owner of BMP Specialist located in Cedar Park, TX, started his company nine years ago working with home builders. “We started off doing erosion control, and then we moved to street sweeping,” he says. “We’ve bought eight sweepers since.”
After taking the step in the sweeping direction, Collins and his crew have attend Tymco training courses to learn industry tips. Those courses along with years of experience helped prepare the BMP crew for sweeping the track.
A look at the equipment
The type of equipment used for sweeping the track was extremely important both in purchasing a unit for the track as well as finding the best choice for local contractors. With the fast pace of the race, it was crucial to choose a unit that could quickly and efficiently clean up the track.
After researching available options for sweeping equipment, Lon Bromley, director of safety for Circuit of the Americas, felt that the Tymco units were the best machine for the job.
“During the race, we will use oil absorbent to pick up an oil spots on the track,” Bromley says. “We have to get that material off the track and into a containment system—like the Tymco sweepers—fast. We have to be able to pick up the material on the first pass through because time is critical on a race track. The quality of machine is extremely important to us.”
The track purchased one Tymco Model 435 and BMP utilized two Tymco Model 600’s for the race. The track unit is equipped with 4 cubic yard hopper capacity high dump and polybrooms—a broom that is typical of airports and race tracks. BMP’s units are equipped with a 6 cubic yard hopper.
As for sweeping the track, the Regenerative Air units push the debris to the surface with a blast of air at 170-200 mph moving the debris up and out of the cracks on the track. Taking about an hour and a half, the units operate at a maximum speed of 7-8 mph in order to properly pick up the debris.
Sweeping for safety
Sweeping the track is one of the most crucial parts of race day preparation to ensure the safety of the drivers and that responsibility falls on the crews preparing the race track. The BMP crew found additional benefits in being onsite during the paving because they were able to become extremely familiar with the track before race week.
Crews began sweeping on Wednesday, Nov. 14, with the three units sweeping the entire track in tandem. Then, after each practice session that week the sweepers would take to the track again.
While some sweeping applications require the use of water to ensure a proper cleaning, this job did not. “We try to stay away from water on the race track,” Bromley says. “There are some situations that will require it, but it must be swept the day before so the track has plenty of time to dry before the race.”
On the morning of the race, crews were out on the track at dawn using the three units to sweep again in tandem. One will operate high on the track, one down in the middle, and one down on the edge of the track to cover the most area in the shortest period of time. The material picked up during the sweep was less than 1/3 of the hopper.
“Crews are sweeping to make sure the track is completely clean,” Bromley says. “I will do a final inspection of the track after it is swept and the areas with oil are cleaned up to make sure it is ready for the drivers.”