The article excerpted here, “Building a Banked Track Is a Balancing Act” by Kyle Maxey, originally appeared in Engineering.com.
Mitchell Machine Works is in the business of building complex machines. Hailing from Dalton, Ga., the company has been known the world over for its Magic Carpet, a hydraulically driven roller system that can roll up, or roll out, an entire sports field of turf in a matter of minutes.
Mitchell Machine Works was founded in 1967 by the company’s self-described “chief engineer, owner and just about everything else,” Mark Mitchell, who has gained a reputation for being someone who can design and deliver complex machines. Because of this pedigree and his previous experience building the Magic Carpet, Mitchell picked up the phone one day and found himself with some surprise business. On the other end of the line was a company that needed Mitchell to build an indoor running track.
Taken at face value, building an indoor running track doesn’t seem all that mechanically complex. A track’s essentially an oval. A flat oval.
But there was a catch.
Instead of being flat, the indoor running track that Mitchell was being asked to build had to be hydraulically driven, because, you see, some indoor track events use a banked surface, not a flat one like its outdoor counterpart.
. . .