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SVreX MegaDork
9/13/13 1:04 p.m.

Anyone know any basic guidelines or specs for constructing a skid pad or test track?

The skid pad will be 300' dia, 50' width of asphalt. The test track is 3 miles worth of twisties.

I am not going to build to your specs. I am looking for basic information to help my customer understand that when he asks me at the last minute "Oh, let's add a skid pad", it's not a simple request.

Plus, to make matters worse, he'll be using it for training for military and law enforcement. Will likely include high speed chases, multiple vehicles, and possibly armored vehicles. Must be completed by the end of this year.

I need a starting point.

Base? Surface material? Widths? Thicknesses? MOC?

This will be used for training in evasive maneuvers. He'll be wanting to build something at a (reasonably) low cost that will enable him to land military training contracts. He is sitting on a bunch of VERY large contracts he will loose if we don't get this thing built this year.

Yeah, I know we need an engineer. Can't change the fact that this guy is nuts. Help!

z31maniac UltimaDork
9/13/13 1:10 p.m.

Only thing I can add, which I'm sure you already know, is that if you're going to punishing the surface with evasive maneuvers of those huge vehicles it's going to need a deep base.

How thick are airport runways dug?

SVreX MegaDork
9/13/13 1:13 p.m.


They can probably define certain parts of the facility to exclude large vehicles, but not evasive maneuvers.

chaparral HalfDork
9/13/13 1:21 p.m.

The stakes here are high enough that you need a civil engineer, and you need to give him accurate load estimates for both vertical and lateral load. Hitting a dip at maximum lateral load in an oversteering orientation with a vehicle whose center of gravity is high is a good recipe for a rollover.

doc_speeder Reader
9/13/13 1:24 p.m.

Nothing to add except - Holy E36 M3 cool project!

SVreX MegaDork
9/13/13 1:25 p.m.

I understand. We have civil engineers.

I don't currently need a civil engineer. As I noted, I am not building to anyone's suggestions here.

I currently need some standards and guidelines, so I can communicate with a customer.

SVreX MegaDork
9/13/13 1:35 p.m.
doc_speeder wrote: Nothing to add except - Holy E36 M3 cool project!

Thanks. Project pales in comparison to the overall facility.

3000+ acre privately owned military training facility including heavy armament and explosives training, landing strip for a C-130, 2000 yd firing range ( among several dozen other ranges), field medical training including live tissue, ability to recreate any strike zone in the world via satellite data for advanced training before a strike, performance driving in dirt, gravel, and asphalt...

They can fly in teams from anywhere in the world incognito, train them in a re-creation of the environment they will actually be striking, and fly them out direct to the field of engagement.

It would leave most guys on this site too excited to sleep for weeks!

I don't tell guys like this we can't do something. They've got big guns! I'm just trying to determine approximately what it will take.

clownkiller HalfDork
9/13/13 1:42 p.m.

Here is a google map location of "Black Lake" Michelin Proving Grounds. I did one autocross there, it was fast! You can see from the satellite image the autocross area, this is where they have one skid pad set up. There is a ton of space to loose control, run off, and is flat. You can see three lanes painted running through for size reference. There seems to be two larger rings on the property too.


clownkiller HalfDork
9/13/13 1:47 p.m.

Road Atlanta has two. One in the pit area, the other inside turn six. They have a drain in the center to catch run off. They might even do a wet pad. I've done turn six skid pad a bunch....fun!!


tdisalvo New Reader
9/13/13 1:51 p.m.

I work in the site development world, on both large- and small-scale developments, etc. You're looking to create an emergency vehicle operations center, or an EVOC. I was on a design team that created an EVOC for a technical school. It included a 1-mile training loop & skid-pad, three bermed shooting ranges, fire training structures & classroom facility. I also reviewed plans for two more facilities that weren't built.

Most law-enforcement training facilities are between 0.7 and 1.0 mile in length, typically 24-28' width throughout, with various portions of course that are curved, straight, divided highway, on-ramp & off-ramp scenarios and a large central skid pad area. Most skid pads are rectangular and totally paved (i.e. not a donut) so they're more flexible for training. Some EVOCs are also set up for heavy truck training and include faux docks, blind corners to back around, etc. Typically EVOCs are constructed using asphalt (at least here in the Midwest they are.) Pavement profile is heavy-duty throughout, usually 4" of asphalt (one 2.5” binder lift and a 1.5” wear course) over 12" min. of compacted stone base. Thicknesses of asphalt and base are a function of vehicle loads, both static & dynamic.

It sounds like your client is looking to create a plus-sized EVOC that will be built longer and will need to tolerate higher weights & loads. You'll need to determine the various training scenarios desired and how they can be addressed by the course's design. IE, will the entire course be paved, or will you have areas of transition from paved to non-paved (dirt, stone, water obstacles, terrain / grade changes, etc.) Vehicle load calculations will be a must. Aside from the course itself, you'll also need to think about support structures on-site for training, vehicle maintenance, possible on-site fueling, parking for spectators, lighting for night operations, access control, etc.

You say that a civil engineer is involved; they should be able to provide a lot of guidance relative to design process, site disturbance, pavement profiles, etc. As well, some serious geotechnical investigation will be needed. Different soils have different bearing capacities, and a geotechnical engineer should be able to provide recommended pavement thicknesses as based on soil profile & anticipated traffic weights. It’s one thing to design a course for squad cars, but any military / armored equipment is going to have a whole different set of criteria.

Since the property is military-owned, do you need to go through any municipal plan review, local DNR involvement, engineering review and/or stormwater management approvals (depending on your locale)? All will demand attention and potentially lengthy approval processes.

With all that said, good luck. Crazy clients are sometimes the most fun to work with. The impossible becomes possible when someone with money & persuasion gets it in their head to make something happen.

/edited since I see some add'l information has been shared

icaneat50eggs HalfDork
9/13/13 2:02 p.m.

I'm a civil engineer, and have built lots of different training facilities for the military. (Up side, full auto fifty cals!, downside, Afghanistan)

The short answer that you don't want to hear is "it depends".

The next easy answer is go to your nearest big city or highway department, and copy there spec for their highest traffic roads. This will be $$$$$$. Hopefully soils will be similar, but with anything like this step 1 is a good geotech study.

However, this is where your civil engineer will pay for himself if he's any good. you can go with a much less expensive road design since I'm assuming this won't be in constant use, IF you employ good maintenance in the down times.

Also you really need to think of who your customers are. I built one MRAP training course that I didn't do that great a job of because I severely overstimated the amount of time and skill the guys that were going to be using the thing had. They hit and broke things I thought were way safe.

I've thought of about a dozen other issues/questions....

Shoot me an email if you want, I'd be happy to help out.

tony52398 at yahoo dot com

clownkiller HalfDork
9/13/13 2:07 p.m.

Wow! Great info.

icaneat50eggs HalfDork
9/13/13 2:14 p.m.

Let me add, your civil engineer, if he's good and has some business skills, (which is a rare combo) can help you analyze the entire project, life span, maintenance cost, uses, and come up with a more cost effective approach

SVreX MegaDork
9/13/13 2:21 p.m.

In reply to tdisalvo and icaneat50eggs:

That is what I was looking for. Thank you for your help.

To clarify...

  • This is an existing facility. They are adding a track.

  • Yes, It's a big track. It's really 2 separate loops that intersect.

  • Yes, it is an EVOC facility, and will have varying road conditions, bridges, etc. They also test weapons and armament for manufacturers.

  • I didn't say it was owned by the military. I said it was private. There are things you can't do on publically owned lands which CAN be done at this facility. That's why they get some military contracts.

  • I didn't say a civil engineer is involved. We have access to one.

I've been building a very long time. I am very familiar with the challenges, environmental, liabilities, and need for design time and engineering. I also live and work in an area where folks often bi-pass this stuff.

Just the way it is...

Thanks for your help.

SVreX MegaDork
9/13/13 2:30 p.m.
icaneat50eggs wrote: Also you really need to think of who your customers are. I built one MRAP training course that I didn't do that great a job of because I severely overstimated the amount of time and skill the guys that were going to be using the thing had. They hit and broke things I thought were way safe.

That's a great comment.

Sometimes we don't think about what it is we make our military do.

We send them HumVees, then weld armor plating all over them. We double the weight of the vehicle without adequate chassis or suspension mods, then ask drivers to drive them at high speeds over uneven surfaces under fire. Many of these drivers have only been driving 2 or 3 years.

The military can contain their combat losses. Vehicle accident related losses outnumber combat by as much as 20:1.

By the time you figure medical and death benefits for a military spouse for the rest of their life, vehicle related losses cost taxpayers over 2 million dollars per occurance.

This facility is designed to save lives, and train people in the stuff they will really face which cannot be taught on military installations.

Driving E36 M3ty armored vehicles over questionable road surfaces is part of the challenge.

benzbaronDaryn Dork
9/13/13 2:41 p.m.

I went past a military vehicle test facility out in nevada it was a trip to say the least. Right off an old section of the pony express. The place was called the NATC and you would never know it was there. I think it is a test track for testing trucks and tanks heading to afghanistan or something, it had huge steep grades.

icaneat50eggs HalfDork
9/13/13 2:56 p.m.


When I was in Afghanistan i was attached to a unit, we had 8 company vehicles that we shared with our military bosses. Since I was a "car guy" I was in charge of them. As is common we used the lowest ranks (airman) for all kinds of gopher duties. One of the things I had to do at each new rotation was find out which guys couldn't drive a stick, and go teach them. That was scary enough. However, I had one guy that had lived in NYC all his life. He had never driven ANYTHING ever.

Also, the worst day I had as an engineer was when I learned an MRAP had flipped on a culvert I had designed. The genius locals had built it rotated 180 degrees, so the approach and departure were really weird. The inexperienced driver turned to sharp, dropped the rear over the side, and it rolled down into the creek. The gunner didn't get pulled back in quick enough and was crushed. He lived, but lost his career, and will have complications for the rest of his life from that.

icaneat50eggs HalfDork
9/13/13 3:01 p.m.

Just saw you wanted to test be rod conditions in up armored vehicles, I have a long list of lessons learned for this. When I get home ill type them up

Apis_Mellifera Reader
9/13/13 10:08 p.m.

My experience is with a private local race track. It is a small road course with, I believe, a 100' skidpad (where my MGB GT did .98g) bisected by a section of the course. Half of the skidpad can be used for the races and showed no appreciable wear over the less traveled section. The width averages 10-15'. Surface material is asphalt. I am not sure of the base, I believe it's limestone gravel. The underlying soil is clay. This track was designed for Porsche prototype race cars and also used by prepared street cars. Once the asphalt was seasoned, it was murder on tires. Though neglected for at least a decade, the surface was sound and stable.

At one time I planned to build a track of my own and rent it out to fund financing. In my application, crush and run compacted to 6" over compacted clay and surfaced with 3" of asphalt was sufficient. My width was 10'. Tiny, but fine for the overall scale and purpose. Ultimately, the inescapable liability of renting it out was too much to proceed. I'm not an engineer by trade, but I am German.

I don't know if that's helpful at all.

9/16/13 10:40 a.m.

In reply to SVreX:

There are many factors that would need to be known, some already mentioned. If it is an existing facility, what do they currently have for pavement on other track areas and how are they holding up. The vehicle size and weight will play a factor along with vehicles per day. The base material is also going to be dependent on what the existing soils are. I've designed a number of vehicle test tracks, which include dynamic pads, High Speed ovals and road courses. I'd be interested in discussing it with you.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
9/16/13 11:04 a.m.

See if your local paving company is interested in doing a design/build quote. This is what they do.

SVreX MegaDork
9/16/13 12:07 p.m.
Apis_Mellifera wrote: I'm not an engineer by trade, but I am German. I don't know if that's helpful at all.

Awesome! That quote better show up in the magazine!

SVreX MegaDork
9/16/13 12:09 p.m.

In reply to RM_GTCS:

It is an existing facility, but no asphalt. They have dirt tracks, but the asphalt road course is the last piece

Wally MegaDork
9/16/13 12:25 p.m.

I have nothing to add except that when it's done I would like to go to a training session and try it.

SVreX MegaDork
9/16/13 9:31 p.m.

In reply to Wally:

I could let you do that, but I'm pretty sure we'd have to kill you.

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