Race to Resurface F1 Track

Sunland Asphalt performs mill and fill on Miami Formula 1 track with echelon paving ahead of successful Grand Prix

In the Formula 1 world, millimeters matter in both racing and paving. Management at Sunland Asphalt & Construction, Littleton, Colorado, knew they would need their A team on hand to handle the 2023 resurfacing project at the Miami International Autodrome, home of the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix. They mobilized 75 internal employees, 15 technical specialists and 40 pieces of heavy equipment from around the country on 35 separate transport loads.

The project’s scope consisted of milling 2 inches of the existing track and repaving it with a highly specialized asphalt mix designed to Formula 1 standards. Crews were to repave the track at 2 inches thick for a total of 9,500 tons over an eight-day period.

Construction scheduling for the 3.36-mile anticlockwise circuit, which winds around the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, had to be choreographed around the stadium’s other events, including the end of the National Football League season, a jazz music festival and the Miami Open tennis tournament. The International Automobile Federation also required Sunland to have the mix put down 60 days before its big event for the material to properly cure.

Needless to say, it took a lot of coordination for Sunland to make this happen and the Wirtgen Group was just one of the many partners in place to help.

Sunland crews used three pavers working in echelon to prevent cold joints along the 50-foot-wide track, paving at a very efficient pace of only 6 fpm.

Step 1. Mill. The crew from Sunland Asphalt & Construction, Littleton, Colorado, used three milling machines to precisely remove 2 inches from the existing track.

The Need for Speed—and Grip

In 2022, Miami held its first Grand Prix event on the track. When drivers expressed concerns with the grip on the pavement, track owners decided to lay fresh asphalt ahead of the 2023 race. The track management hired Tilke Engineers & Architects, headquartered in Aachen, Germany, to oversee track resurfacing, which they said would ultimately improve the “spectacle” of the 2023 race.

Sunland was hired to complete the mill-and-resurface of the track and began work to remove the existing surface in the early spring of 2023.

Sunland Asphalt trucked all their equipment in to ensure crews were familiar and comfortable with their equipment and processes. They used three pavers working in echelon to prevent cold joints along the 50-foot-wide track. The pavers were also moving at a very efficient pace of only 6 fpm to ensure paving smoothness.

The mix design for the track included 60% US-mined granite from Georgia with the remainder of the aggregates being locally sourced lime rock from Southern Florida. These aggregates ensured the grip needed on the course.

Step 2. Fill. Three pavers worked in echelon at a steady pace of 6 feet per minute to ensure no cold joints interrupted a smooth mat. Here you can see a Weiler material transfer vehicle feeding the hopper insert of one of two Vogele Super 2000-3i pavers to assist in smooth, constant material control.

Technology Meets Tight Tolerances

In addition to the three Wirtgen mills, Sunland used three HAMM HD+ 80i rollers and two VOGELE Super 2000-3i asphalt pavers. The Wirtgen Group technology on these machines is “plug and play,” which allowed the team at Sunland to get up and running with these machines easily.

“The plug and play feature on all these machines has been a huge advantage to us as a Topcon provider, making the installs quick and easy,” Tony Carden, intelligent paving product manager at RDO Equipment said. “We’re also able to provide serviceability for them both on the dealer side and from the manufacturer side. It’s a win-win.”

The project’s scope consisted of milling 2 inches of the existing track, then repaving 2 inches thick with a highly specialized asphalt mix designed to Formula 1 standards, for a total of 9,500 tons over an eight-day period.

Thermal Imaging

The pavers on the job were equipped with a temperature monitoring system. Thermal cameras were mounted to the pavers and used to find any temperature differences that could indicate potential segregation in the mat as it was being laid.

“The thermal profiling that we’re using on the pavers gives a rundown of where the pavers were, where they’re going, at what speed they are running and at what temperature,” Greg Hughes, project engineer at Sunland said. “If one isn’t getting to a high enough temperature, we can go back and look at it and see what happened and fix it and that’s a great tool for us.”

To address racecar drivers’ concerns about pavement grip, the Miami International Autodrome’s Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix track was milled and resurfaced ahead of the 2023 big event. All photos courtesy of C2C Visuals

To address racecar drivers’ concerns about pavement grip, the Miami International Autodrome’s Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix track was milled and resurfaced ahead of the 2023 big event. All photos courtesy of C2C Visuals

Intelligent Compaction

“The intelligent compaction on all the rollers shows us our roller patterns throughout the day,” Hughes said. “It provides us real-time documentation of the areas we are hitting and if we’re hitting any areas more than we should. We’re also able to know if we should be vibrating more or less as well.”

With the HAMM Intelligent Compaction system, users can set a designated number of passes ahead of paving. The system shows the operator, on the in-cab display, how many passes have been completed.

Sunland management says they also use the intelligent compaction system as a training tool. “We sit with our roller operators, and we can show them where we might be able to improve on future jobs.”—Greg Hughes

Step 3. Compact. The compaction team set a rolling pattern behind the pavers to achieve optimum densities and a smooth driving surface incorporating three HAMM HD+ 80i rollers.

Sunland management says they also use the intelligent compaction system as a training tool.

“We use it in the office to see where we could be more effective,” Hughes said. “We sit with our roller operators, and we can show them where we might be able to improve on future jobs.”

The crews finished paving the 19 turns of the course on the Autodrome’s schedule, and the 2023 Miami Grand Prix was a success thanks to the hard work and dedication of the people behind the machines.