By Curt Yeomans
It takes one week to paint all of the NASCAR sponsor and race logos on the field at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
About three weeks before the painting begins, speedway maintenance workers overseed the field with rye grass. Rye is a winter-friendly breed of grass which germinates quickly and provides a rich green background for the logos.
This weekend's Pep Boys Auto 500 race may last one day at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but the speedway's employees spend the weeks leading up to it working feverishly to get ready.
"For us, the two weeks before the event, turns into seven days a week, from daylight to dark, trying to get ready for this thing," said Dennis Shubert, the director of operations at the speedway.
NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series rolls into Hampton this weekend with Atlanta Motor Speedway hosting the Pep Boys Auto 500 on Sunday. However, this weekend's events also include the Atlanta 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday.
Most of preparation work has been completed by now. The logos have been painted, the track and walls have been inspected for flaws, and all of the seats in the grandstands have been cleaned.
Now, the speedway officials are helping get vendors set up, making sure grass remains trimmed and the wants and needs of campers continue to be met. There are 3,000, 55-gallon drums, set up to serve as trash cans, and close to 500 Port-O-Johns.
"The general manager [Ed Clark] wants his track race ready every day," said Shubert. "When people walk up here, they are impressed by what they see."
Elsewhere on Wednesday, contractors put finishing touches on the speedway, while other employees were helping vendors set up displays outside the facility. Workers from Don Bell Sign Company, in Port Orange, Fla., were checking each light bulb on the tall score board tower to make sure they worked.
Down the track from the tower, workers from the Traverse City, Mich.-based Britten Services wrapped a sponsor banner around the flag stand.
"It's a beautiful day out ... perfect weather for a race," said Matt Franklin, a field supervisor from Britten Services. He supervised two employees who were wrapping the banner around the flag stand. The company is also responsible for putting other signs and banners up around the speedway. "We do the fall and spring races here, so we'll swap out the banners before both races."
Outside the facility, Bill Harvey was in the parking lot, using a measuring wheel to help him know where to mark the boundaries for vendors tents and stages. Harvey, a resident of Huntington, West Va., comes down a week before the race to begin working with vendors to get them set up. There will be about 50 vendors set up outside the speedway, Harvey said. They must provide their own set- up crews.
"[Thursday] is a big set-up day around here because that's when they are supposed to start setting up, but who knows ... some of them will show up when they show up," said Harvey. "We just try to accommodate them. Some of the vendors, like Sprint, who have larger venues arrive earlier in the week because they need more time to set everything up."