NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For an event that is all about speed, massive concrete barriers along Shelby Avenue are causing people to stop and stare. As we inch closer to the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, crews have been hard at work installing massive concrete barriers around the urban race track.
"There are exactly 2,142 of these on the race track," said Jason Rittenbury, Chief Operating Officer of the race. "These blocks are made to withstand a car hitting it to keep the cars out of the grandstands, the fan area, and for our case here in Nashville, out of the Cumberland River."
These aren't the normal jersey barriers that you see on the interstate. "It is a lighter concrete mixture but still maintains the strength of the higher-rated concrete," said Rittenbury.
That blend was developed through a partnership with Middle Tennessee State University's renowned Concrete Industry Management program. MTSU students also helped design the pit road portion of the track in the Nissan Stadium parking lot.
"We look for any opportunity to bring in the real world into class and give them hands-on experiential learning," said Associate Professor Jon Huddelston of MTSU's concrete program.
Huddleston says his students found environmentally friendly substitutes to put into the mix that still preserved the same type of strength needed for an IndyCar race. "So all of these things go in to make it a unique green concrete mix with materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill or some type of disposal," he said.
It could end up being a winning formula. "This mix will be the standard moving forward with building racetracks," said Rittenbury. "We could do all the improvements to the streets we wanted, we could put all the temporary structures up, but this is really what makes it safe to run these race cars in an urban environment."
All of the MTSU students and faculty that worked so hard on the concrete structures have been given tickets to the race so they'll be able to see their product at work, up close and personal.