Texas Motor Speedway is in the midst of preparations for company. But this isn't just a visit from the in-laws.
This weekend, TMS will be host to a NASCAR Craftsman truck race, a Busch series race, and a Nextel Cup race. Larger than eight Texas Stadiums combined and nestled on 1,500 acres, hundreds of thousands of race fans are expected to descend on TMS, according to Mike Zizzo, director of media relations.
"On a typical NASCAR race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, we are playing host to and serving around 400,000 guests," Zizzo said. "The NASCAR Nextel Cup events each year at Texas Motor Speedway are the largest-attended single-day sporting events in the state of Texas and are among the largest sporting events in the United States annually."
In the 30 days leading up to this weekend's race activities at Fort Worth, TMS operations department director Mat Stolley and his full-time staff of 30 will log a collective 7,000 man-hours preparing for the fan invasion of "The Great American Speedway," with thousands of additional people working during the race weekend.
"Our guys have quite a 'honey-do' list, to say the least," Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. "The magnitude of items on the list makes my complaints around the house sound kind of hollow. I complain about having to replace a light bulb while these guys typically have to replace 750 burned-out bulbs before every event. And no complaints out of me from now on about taking care of the yard chores -- my yard sure beats worrying about 900 acres to mow and planting thousands of flowers. The guys in our operations department have a great deal of pride, though, and they will have the place sparkling beautiful for our guests before the gates open."
The TMS staff will cut grass, lay down seed, trim hedges, plant flowers, and spray weed killer in turf parking and the campgrounds. 290 U.S. flags will be raised. Seats will be power-washed, floors will be vacuumed, and special attention will be paid to the restrooms, where lots of scrubbing and mopping takes place in the 2,383 toilets, 750 men's urinals and 761 bathroom sinks. While you probably make sure there is an extra roll or two of toilet paper at home, the TMS crew stocks the restrooms with 4.5 million feet of toilet paper. That would be 852 miles of toilet paper, enough to go to Galveston, Texas, and back and still have 100 miles to spare.
TMS orders an additional 800 porta-johns and physically unloads and places them around the facility for the guests, increasing the total amount of toilets to nearly 4,000.
But windows? Even TMS draws the line somewhere. The track hires professionals to handle the window cleaning, which involves hanging from a harness high above the frontstretch cleaning the giant glass window fronts on 144 suites, the press box and the nine-story Speedway Club.
Then there's the trash left behind when the race is over. There will be so much garbage that TMS operations will carry and position more than 5,000 trash barrels and 250 Dumpsters to collect it all.
Levy Restaurants, food supplier at the track, will order and prepare: 25,000 hot dogs and buns, 10,000 quarter-pound hamburger patties (equivalent to 1.25 tons of hamburger meat) and buns, 2,000 prime rib steak sandwiches, 15,000 orders of nacho chips and 13,680 ounces of nacho cheese sauce. That will be washed down with 18,750 gallons of Coca-Cola soda and water products.
Levy also will have eight semi-trailers of food that chefs will prepare for guests in the suites, The Speedway Club and Victory Lane Club. The chefs will prepare a variety of foods, including four tons of brisket, two tons of chicken breasts and more than a ton of chicken wings.
When the race is over, however, that doesn't mean the work at the track is done.
"Given the enormity of these race weekends and the attention to detail that is required, the planning, preparation and execution of these events is a yearlong process," Zizzo said. "You can't just open the speedway doors and hope for the best. In addition to race weekends, we have track rentals, driving schools, special events and other major happenings in which the track is active in some sort of fashion nearly 365 days a year. And by August of each year, we also are in the midst of our company planning for the following season. There is plenty to keep everyone on the staff busy and our speedway president, Eddie Gossage, is always challenging us and driving us to outwork and outperform every other speedway."
"I guess you can compare it somewhat to an NFL, NBA, or MLB franchise in a sense," Zizzo added. "We have a few months between races, which is more or less the offseason period for those sports. But you can bet they don't have their feet up on their desks. Like us, they are planning and strategizing for the next season, or in our case, a major event, and looking to stay in the public consciousness."