Grinding of the Drag Strip at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE

In 2010 Aurum Telemedia received a contract from the Yas Marina Circuit to engage the Penhall Company to grind their new drag strip in preparation for their first race. After Aurum and Penhall's successful jobs in Bahrain and Qatar there is no other team the Middle East tracks trust to make their drag strips safe. The following outlines our trip to Abu Dhabi.

On board Etihad the UAE National Airline.

Yas Island as seen from Google Earth. The Island is just east of Abu Dhabi City in the UAE.

Abu Dhabi is home to one of the world's biggest Mosques. The Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque features 80 domes all decorated with white marble. The main dome’s outer shell measures 32.7 metres in diameter and stands 70 metres high from the inside and 85 metres from the outside. The Mosque has 1,096 columns in its exterior and 96 columns in the main prayer hall which are embedded with more than 20,000 handmade marble panels encrusted with semi-precious stones, including lapis lazuli, red agate, amethyst, abalone shell and mother of pearl. The main prayer hall features the world’s largest hand-woven Persian carpet (7,119 square metres). Furthermore the Mosque features seven 24-carat gold-plated chandeliers which were imported from Germany, all designed with thousands of Swarovski crystals. The largest of these chandeliers, which hangs from the main dome of the Mosque, is considered the biggest in the world; it measures 10 metres in diameter, 15 metres in height, and eight-to-nine tonnes in weight.

The sign off highway from the airport on the night of our arrival leading to Yas Island.

The Yas Hotel at night (the skin goes from blue to purple and back again in waves).

Similar view in the morning.

The main focus of the Yas Marina Circuit is the Formula 1 track.

This is the race control facility.

These are the guest rooms built for the Formula 1 teams. We were not allowed to stay here unfortunately.

The guest houses back up to the marina.

The marina at night.

The Yas Hotel reflected in the marina.

The complete view of the drag strip (before grinding). You can see the imperfections from above quite clearly.

Another view from the opposite end of the track. The large building behind the strip is the almost completed Ferrari Center. It is a shopping mall twice the size of Mall of America and includes a theme park. The roller coaster you see to the right of the picture will be the world's largest when completed.

Our job required our trusty Penhall grinder. Here it is ready for shipping out of Houston.We airfreighted a total of 30,000 lbs. of equipment for the job.

Once in Abu Dhabi they needed a crane to move it on and off the delivery truck from the airport.

All equipment staged.

Profilograph of track. Not a pretty site.

The profilograph didn't lie.

This is the same spot on the other lane. Even more uneven.

Some areas were so bad they needed three or more passes.

And some imperfections had very short distances between dips and rises.

Some low spots weren't even touched by the grinding.

These low spots are actually harder to get out, as you have to keep going over the high spots to bring them down to the lowest point. And you have to do that from far back and quite a way forward so there is no dip in the track.

The grinding process requires 3 vehicles: grinder, fresh water truck and slurry truck to catch the waste water and ground concrete

The size of the grinding job required work from 8AM until 9 PM, here we are grinding well past dark

Carlos, this is the 3rd Middle East track he's done with Gulf Track Services.

Marcelino, the best track grinder in the world. Notice the mountain he just cut down to the right of his feet.

Those shiny things are diamonds in the grinding head

Closeup showing before/after.

Here you can see the ground areas clearly.

Video showing how process and the perfect matching of the lanes. Only for the Geeks amongst us.

Nice sunset over the racing facility

Another sunset

The F1 race control at night.

Track as seen through the Yas Hotel Fountain.

Freeburn Track Services polishing off the ridges.

This is the end result after polishing to remove the ridges. Smooth as your basement floor

Final washing of the track the night before testing.

Cool, I get to play with a Porsche GT3.

Best part of fixing any track is taking the test car first time down the track.

In the winners circle. After all, I did win the first race :-)

Last updated 26 February 2010