The calm, cool desert air deceives. In just a few short hours the temperature will begin to rise. And in the Sonoran Desert, where Arizona’s largest city of Phoenix is located, temperatures reach triple digits daily during the long summer months.
Yet for Performance Paving and their president, Tommy Tuttle, the heat is just another challenge with the job. “This heat requires all of our guys to keep an eye on each other,” he explains, watching the progress of his crew as they start the first pass in the early morning light. “We make sure that everybody stays hydrated and alert.”
With a tight schedule, stringent specifications and the unrelenting heat of the Arizona sun, Tuttle and his crew are calm and meticulous as they carry on their work. Masters of their craft, they forge ahead unfazed by the challenges the ISM Raceway project throws at them, a testament to values that run deep throughout the family-owned company.
A 21st Century Raceway
"OUR NEW CARLSON CP 100 II WAS SPECIFICALLY PURCHASED FOR THIS PROJECT BECAUSE OF ITS CAPABILITIES."
— Tommy Tuttle, president, Performance Paving
Nestled in an arid landscape of saguaro cacti and sage brush, ISM Raceway is an oasis in the Sonoran Desert for petrol heads and fans of speed. Formerly known as Phoenix Raceway until the start of the 2018 racing season, ISM Raceway boasts a 1-mile low banking oval track that tests the skill of drivers and excites the tens of thousands of fans in attendance. On NASCAR weekends fans can see their favorite drivers reach up to 136 mph (219kph), where INDYCAR races see astounding speeds exceeding 194 mph (312kph) around the track.
First built in 1964, Phoenix Raceway quickly became a destination road and oval course for motorsports enthusiasts. The proceeding decades saw growth to the raceway, from additional grandstand seating to the number of high-profile races, notably biannual NASCAR series races. By 2018, however, the raceway needed modernization to accommodate the crowds and the immense popularity of racing.
To help improve the race day experience and bring the racetrack firmly into the 21st century, ISM Raceway and parent company International Speedway Corporation invested $178 million into the modernization project. With a tight deadline of completing the entire project by the Can-Am 500 NASCAR Weekend in early November, there was little room for error in getting the track ready for the largest race weekend in the track’s annual schedule.
Construction for the infield improvements began on April 8, giving contractors a timeframe of just 214 days to complete ahead of the November race. Speed and precision were needed.
While a substantial portion of the improvement project focused on race day experiences, parking, seating and enlargement of the infield, a significant sum was put towards improvement to the team garages and new pit road. To complete the project, Performance Paving was selected for the contract for the paving of the entire pit road, along with a secondary contract for most of the expanded parking areas outside the track.
Earned, Never Given
“My background has always been in paving,” explains Tommy Tuttle, President of Performance Paving. “I started working with my grandfather and father back in Menasha, Wisconsin when I was 8 years old being placed in charge of cleaning the shovels and lutes.”
A fourth-generation member of the paving industry, Tuttle’s experience runs deep, learning the value of hard work and a love of the industry at a young age. No value more profound, however, than that of mastering your craft and hard work.
“My grandfather said I had to master my job before I was given a better position. I will never forget on my 10th birthday he said I was old enough and had enough experience to start becoming the roller man.”
After a quarter of a decade gaining experience and mastering each job he was given, Tuttle, along with his wife Danielle, decided it was time to start a paving company of their own in Phoenix, Arizona – Performance Paving.
Starting in 2006 with three employees and a paver, Performance Paving has grown to become one of the region’s most respected contractors. Specializing in commercial, residential, specialized and public works paving projects, today Performance Paving has 35 employees, four asphalt pavers, and has extended its services across the paving and pavement maintenance spectrum.
Performance Paving’s familiarity and depth of experience with high profile projects, including the Toyota Proving Grounds, Barrett Jackson pavilions in Scottsdale, and previous work at ISM Raceway, positioned the company well to receive the contract for the new pit road. Experience they would need and count on to meet the stringent specs placed on the high-profile track.
Rising to the Challenge
The relocation and construction of the new pit road began in June. Entering along the backstretch into the final turn, the massive curved pit road runs along the new Turn 4 and exits prior to the relocated Start/Finish line. While not part of the track, which was paved in 2011, the pit road still required stringent specs that Performance Paving had to meet while applying 5,000 tons of asphalt over multiple passes and days.
“The surface specification, for instance, was that the surface shall not vary more than 1/8 inch over a 16-foot straightedge,” Tuttle notes. In addition, “the maximum allowable profile index, 0.1-inch blanking band for a 0.1-mile section, is equivalent to 12 inches per mile on the mid-course and the final course of 8 inches per mile.”
Combined with the required 95% density following compaction, the raceway contract also regulated non-stop paving from the start of a pass to the completion of it, as well as mandating a maximum pave speed of just 15 feet per minute. Coordination, experience and the right equipment were needed.
“Our new Carlson CP100 II was specifically purchased for this project because of its capabilities, supreme screed and mat finish,” recounts Tuttle. Purchased in July, the CP100 II represents the second paver from Carlson that is part of Performance’s fleet.
"IT WAS VERY REFRESHING TO HAVE THE TECHNICIAN LISTEN TO MANY OF OUR IDEAS."
— Tommy Tuttle, president, Performance Paving
“We purchased a new Carlson CP100 in 2017 and when we first received that paver Carlson sent out a technician to go over the new paver with us to teach us all of its new capabilities. It was very refreshing to have the technician listen to many of our ideas, and we saw a lot of the improvements in the new CP100 II that led us to purchase the machine this year.”
Along with its new CP100 II, Tuttle points out that during the ISM Raceway pit road project the company’s older CP100 was employed in laying nearly 11,000 tons for the secondary contract for the expansion of parking outside the track complex.
Featuring the all-new EZCSS front mount screed and full CAN bus controls, the Performance Paving team combined the paving abilities of their new Carlson CP100 II commercial paver with contact and non-contact skis fitted with TF Technologies grade sensors to assist in achieving the stringent ride profile and smoothness.
Material delivery to the jobsite posed a significant hurdle for Tuttle’s team as well, but their solution lay in the use of Roadtec SB2500 Shuttle Buggy material transfer vehicle that was rented for the pit road project. Allowing consistent delivery of material to the paver, along with the ability of the paver operator to digitally control the speed of the Carlson platform, Performance Paving was able to achieve the long passes and specified rate of paving set forth by the raceway.
Following three lifts and multiple days of paving, Performance Paving completed the new pit road in early August. Through hard work, expertise and the right equipment, the company achieved the ride and smoothness requirements as set by the contract.
Ever present, though, was the deeply rooted values of mastering their job, which Tuttle learned at a young age and has instilled in his own family company. These values helped Performance not only achieve the results at ISM Raceway, but to continue to solidify the company as one of the premier commercial contractors in the region.
Come November as NASCAR returns to ISM Raceway, millions of race fans from across the country will witness the quality of work Tuttle and his team at Performance Paving accomplished. A job well done, and a well-deserved trip down Victory Lane.