The Chrysler proving ground from space

Chrysler has a 3,850 acre proving ground near Chelsea, Michigan that originally opened in 1952, and currently has about 95 miles of test roads. Sustained high-speed testing had, until recently, been conducted on a 4.71 mile oval track that could support neutral steer running up to 140mph in the top lane. That means the top of six lanes was banked at an angle where the centrifugal force was balanced by gravity at 140mph, so you could drive around without steering input.

In 2004, the oval track was host to a world record two-way average run of 154.587mph in a Dodge Ram SRT-10, making it the worlds fastest production pickup truck. Unfortunately, the concrete surface originally laid down in 1953 has now seen too many Michigan winters and needs to be replaced. So, between now and September, construction crews will be ripping up the entire track surface and laying down a new one. The Chrysler press release is after the jump.

[Source: Chrysler] Oval Track at DaimlerChrysler's Chelsea Proving Ground Undergoes Reconstruction
Landmark Oval a Part of the Community for 54 Years

Chelsea, Mich. -

The 4.71-mile-long oval track at DaimlerChrysler's Chelsea (Mich.) Proving Grounds (CPG) will undergo reconstruction during the upcoming spring and summer seasons to replace its pavement surface. The existing surface, which was laid in 1953, has deteriorated and the track no longer provides a test surface acceptable for high-speed vehicle testing requirements.

Beginning today, work crews will begin the process of removing and replacing the surface. The work is scheduled for completion by early September.

Chrysler Group utilizes the Chelsea Proving Grounds for new vehicle design development and validation. Several types of tests are performed at CPG, including vehicle durability, emissions certification, crash worthiness, brake development and certification, performance testing, wind and pass-by noise testing, steering suspension tests, exposure to hot and cold temperatures-prior to vehicles being brought to the marketplace.

In addition to validating vehicles to prepare them for on-the-road driving, the Chelsea Proving Grounds has twice written itself into the history books as the site of two world speed records. The first was set July 20, 1969, by Buddy Baker in a high-winged Dodge Charger Daytona stockcar. Running high-speed tests prior to its NASCAR launch, the car went 203 mph, marking the first time anyone had ever gone over 200 mph on a closed course. Since the location was the Chelsea Proving Grounds it was never officially published.

On Feb. 2, 2004, Chelsea Proving Grounds and the Dodge Ram SRT-10 made history, entering the Guinness Book of World Records as "The World's Fastest Production Pickup Truck." The Dodge Ram SRT-10-driven by NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series star Brendan Gaughan posted a two-lap, both-directions average speed of 154.587 mph over a "flying kilometer" on the oval.

Seen from the air, the oval is a six-lane concrete road, and is in nearly continuous use. The curves in the oval are designed to accommodate vehicle speeds from 30 to 140 mph without producing any lateral loading.
Although the oval reconstruction will not directly affect any roads outside of CPG, local drivers should expect to see an increase in the amount of truck traffic into and out of the Grounds during this period both on M-52 (Chelsea Manchester Road) and on Sylvan Road to the West of the Grounds.

The 3,850-acre Chelsea Proving Grounds site in Sylvan Township is just south of the Village of Chelsea, covering an area approximately two by three miles wide, and contains approximately 95 lane-miles of test roads, including: the Oval, two straightaways 1-1/2 and 2-1/4 miles long, a skid traction facility, a 14-acre paved vehicle dynamics area with a three-mile oval, a handling and evaluation road and several accelerated durability roads. In addition to the network of roads there are a number of buildings on the site totaling approximately 750,000 sq. ft. The first building was opened in 1952.

The Chelsea Proving Grounds employs about 750 people. Approximately 900,000 gallons of various test fuels are used there each year.

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