Tierp, Sweden | May, 2013 – The sound is ear-splitting: the howl of race tuned engines vying with each other to strip paint by SPL alone from the concrete walls of the long U-shaped arena at Tierp, purpose-built on an old military airfield in central Sweden. The brainchild of Lief Andréasson, this derelict patch of perfectly level wasteland has been turned into one of the most modern drag racing arenas in the world – with a host of other purposes planned – 2.51km (1.56 miles) of motorsport racetrack just 120 km (75 miles) north of Stockholm with the capacity for 20,000 spectators.
Tierp Arena is the first European drag racing track to be accredited by the NHRA (National Hot Road Association), the US-based, 80-000 member strong body that is the sport’s de facto world organization. Founded by Wally Parks in 1951, who worked to get racing off the city streets and highways and into safer, organized venues, fans are privy to an up-close and personal view of teams rebuilding engines in less than 75 minutes between elimination rounds, and drivers are often found in their pit areas, signing autographs and chatting with fans.
With speeds of up to 530 km/h (330mph), a record set by a man who shares the familiar name of Schumacher, it can also be one of the world’s most hair-raising sports, although a long series of fatal crashes and spectacularly exploding engines has seen stringent safety measures introduced steadily over the years. Today the NHRA is engaged in much further-flung activities, with a newly created Worldwide Affiliation directory of National Dragster and NHRA.com bearing its first fruit in the shape of the Yas Marina Circuit, on Yas Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, which signed up in June 2011.
“We’ve built one of the best race tracks in the world,” enthused Tierp Arena co-director Lars Erik Lindberg, “one of the best facilities for drag racing anywhere.” Its inaugural year saw one European Championship race, and in 2012 two European Championships and two Swedish Championship races.
He continues: “The reason it’s one of the best is simple: the track is concrete so it’s really flat and stable; not so sensitive to weather or temperatures. Modeled on Formula 1 tracks, it now has one of Sweden’s longest straights, plus open hairpins and very fast corners. And the facilities are excellent: grandstands for 20,000 people, many toilets, showers, and a large pit area with all the facilities the teams could want.”
LOUD – AND LOUDER STILL
If drag racing is loud, it follows that the commentary has to need be a few dBs more potent still. “The key to the audio for a drag racing audience is, of course, to make it loud,” says Karl-Gustaf Kahlau, of Renkus-Heinz Sweden distributor Luthman SMTTS AB, “so the audience can hear what the commentator is saying above the noise of the cars. What they’ve done at Tierp Arena is to use line array modules that are powerful enough – but compact enough not to obscure sightlines. When the audience is watching a race, they obviously don’t want a bulky sound system in the way.
“With our help, they decided on low profile PNX102/LA line array modules, 24 boxes in total, bolted in pairs to customized steel ground frames to make 12 independent freestanding clusters, that they could place along the length of the racetrack at ground level pointing upwards towards the audience. The installer, Mr Lennart Johansson, designed a semi modular, semi mobile transportation and multi-angle cabinet suspension system that was really well thought out and robust enough for our extreme weather conditions – up here it gets both pretty cold in winter and hot in summer; you have to be well prepared.
“The critical factor, though, is that the commentary can be heard over the massive ambient noise. These compact line array modules are matched to high efficiency Powersoft amplifiers via a weather-insulated network of pre-installed underground cables under the racetrack, and weatherproofed ground facility panels, all running back to the amp rack room in the main building.” The room also serves to store the cabinets between races.
“Also,” adds Kahlau, “as this system is both modular and totally mobile, it offers the owners complete flexibility and economy of scale, so they can deploy it in various configurations on other parts of the site for presentations, speeches and so on.” Rock’n’roll is among them, he comments: “It gives them the option to rig the modules in a standard long left-and-right line array configuration: the perfect system to set up in the space they have on site that could easily host a rock and roll concert for 10-20,000 people.”
A small-footprint PreSonus 16:0:2 digital console with both live and recording capabilities is the system’s mix hub. The desk has proved popular in the Scandinavian market for small control rooms and churches which now benefit from refined all-digital solutions from RHAON-equipped Renkus-Heinz systems to small multi-purpose digital consoles. The PN102/LAX system was simulated in EASE which, using just two dual line array clusters, demonstrated a delivery of 105 dB at the farthest positions.
Close to two cities and handy for hotels and all kinds of facilities, and near the airport, from a global perspective Tierp Arena is a perfectly placed for both residents and tourists alike, says Lindberg: “so what we’re aiming for, on top of drag racing, are a new racing series, a program of concert events and big winter events.” Also in their sights are plans for a host of other events including a general driving instruction course, motorbike races, a diesel power challenge event and an air show, along with new go-kart and rally-cross tracks.
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