The 4.71-mile-long oval track at DaimlerChrysler ‘s Chelsea, Michigan, 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, the automaker said.

Work crews have begun the process of removing and replacing the surface. The work is scheduled for completion by early September.

Chrysler uses 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, and exposure to hot and cold temperatures.

In addition to validating vehicles to prepare them for on-the-road driving, Chelsea Proving Grounds has twice written itself into the history books as the site of two world speed records. The first was set on 20 July, 1969, by Buddy Baker in a high-winged Dodge Charger Daytona stockcar. Running high- speed tests prior to its NASCAR launch, the car achieved 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 2 February, 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 Ram – driven by NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series star Brendan Gaughan – posted a two-lap, both-directions average speed of 154.587 mph over a “flying kilometre” 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.

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 totalling approximately 750,000 sq. ft. The first building was opened in 1952.

The Chelsea Proving Grounds employs about 750 people.