Indoor racetrack uses fabric ductwork to control indoor air quality

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - If fabric ductwork had never been invented, Ron Young's vision of opening the East Coast's largest European-style Kart indoor racetrack might not have happened.

Blue DuctSox fabric duct is shown near the ceiling at Racing America. Engineers improved the indoor racetrack's air quality by bringing in enough outside air to eliminate carbon monoxide produced by the cars' engines.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - If fabric ductwork had never been invented, Ron Young's vision of opening the East Coast's largest European-style Kart indoor racetrack might not have happened. Young found a perfect location - a 70,000-square-foot former warehouse adjacent to the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. However, the building's existing roof couldn't support the HVAC ductwork needed to meet local ventilation codes

While a large aesthetic for the Kart drivers and spectators is experiencing the feel, roar and action of racing, local code-enforcement officials mandated they breathe fresh air, not gasoline-powered engine fumes. As a former warehouse, the metal building's existing exhaust fans were sufficient. However, since the building's roof had already collapsed once from snow years ago, the prospect of hanging hundreds of tons of metal ductwork without expensive roof supports was cost prohibitive. Young decided his only hope of satisfying codes was to use lightweight fabric duct.

KLQ Architectural of Foxborough and Blue Diamond Construction in Walpole, Mass., were responsible for redesigning and remodeling the HVAC system.

With the roof weight-bearing load problem solved, Young, along with the assistance of a retired mechanical engineer, designed an HVAC system of makeup-air units, fabric ductwork and carbon monoxide sensors. The system whisks away CO and other internal-combustion engine byproducts from the small cars that whiz around the three-eighths-mile track at speeds of up to 35 mph.


Young, a former construction company executive, was aware of fabric duct, but was surprised to find that the fabric duct manufactured by Dubuque, Iowa-based DuctSox could save the $2 million project nearly $200,000 in installation and material costs versus using round metal ductwork.

"There's no comparison to the look," said Young. "Fabric duct is streamlined with a barely noticeable linear array of holes for diffusion and spiral duct has its look with seams and protruding registers."

The indoor track uses four 360-foot-long runs of DuctSox's 48- and 52-inch-diameter economy-grade blue PolyTex High Throw ductwork, which was picked by Young and salesman Dave Archibald and Paul O'Connell, metropolitan sales coordinator at DuctSox's representative, Buckley & Associates Inc. in Hanover, Mass.

The warehouse's original 60,000-cfm air handler was bolstered with a Pace 30,000-cfm air handler that was installed by mechanical contractor G&G Commercial Systems of Bridgewater, Mass. A dozen model DVP-12 carbon monoxide detectors from Macurco are located on support columns throughout the race area and monitored by Macurco's building-automation system that activates the four new Dayton 25,000-cfm exhaust fans.

A 30,000-cfm Pace air handler supplies part of the makeup-air at the racetrack. G&G Commercial Systems fabricated connecting metal duct that goes through the wall and connects to hundreds of linear feet of DuctSox fabric ductwork.

Preventing fumes

Chris Hammill, Buckley's engineered product manager, helped Young set up the CO system. The system was designed with a slight negative pressure to prevent fume infiltration into the complex's 10,000-square-foot lobby and restaurant areas.

A 7.5- and 20-ton ground-mounted unit from Carrier Corp. supply air conditioning and heating to DuctSox's Sedona ductwork in the lobby and restaurant. The Sedona is a premium, high-aesthetic model with "Comfort Flow" air dispersion. Fifteen percent of the air is released through pores in the fabric, while the remaining air is dispersed gently and quietly through DuctSox's linear S-Vent air-diffusion technology. The fabric duct is black and blends into the ceiling.

While there are currently only a handful of indoor Kart tracks in the United States, the sport is very popular in Europe, where more than 2,000 tracks entertain fans. Now with a track that offers excitement as well as indoor air comfort, Young hopes the sport increases in interest here.