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Pocono Raceway answers the call in a need for speed to finish I-95 bridge repair

Jet Truck_Pocono.jpg
Ben May, Pocono Raceway
The Jet Truck at Pocono Raceway gets ready to head to Philadelphia to assist in the repair of Interstate 95 on Thursday, June 22, 2023.

LONG POND, Pa. – In a race to the finish line of the bridge repair of Interstate 95, officials found one more way to speed up the project: the use of the Pocono Raceway jet dryer.

The apparatus usually used to push water off the racetrack was taken to Philadelphia early Thursday, Pocono Raceway President Ben May said in a phone call Thursday morning.

  • The jet dryer from Pocono Raceway has been sent to aid in the repair of I-95
  • The truck left Long Pond and was driven to Philadelphia on Thursday morning
  • It will be used to help dry the asphalt after paving, and in drying new lines painted on the roadway

“We received a call from Secretary of Transportation Mike Carroll yesterday and Mike was a Luzerne County representative for a while, so we’ve known Mike for a good bit of time,” May said.

“And Governor [Josh] Shapiro and his administration have been great to us. The governor has been attending our NASCAR races for the past couple of years, so I have a great relationship with Mike and a great relationship with the governor’s administration.”

Pocono jet dryer and pace car
The Pocono Raceway jet dryer and a pace car sit in front of the I-95 bridge repair on Thursday, June 22, 2023.

Those relationships and understanding of the racing business led officials to think outside of the box — or rather, the Tricky Triangle, as Pocono Raceway is known.

“I’m sure a lot of people don’t know this, but NASCAR race cars don’t have tread on the tires. They’re slick, so they can’t race with any type of moisture,” May said. “So between NASCAR and the race tracks, we have a lot of equipment to dry the race track in a very quick fashion.

"When Mike reached out on behalf of the administration, we said, ‘Yeah, of course.’ We’ve been in this business of community and in the commonwealth for over 50 years. We’re having our 50th season of NASCAR here. So that’s what we do. We’re a family-owned and operated business and we love helping the community. We love helping the commonwealth in any way we can.”

As the reopening of I-95 nears, the jet dryer will be used to help dry the asphalt as paving progress is made so that lines can be painted on the interstate.

The temporary lanes are set to open just two weeks after I-95 collapsed during a fiery, deadly crash. A livestream of the progress has been running 24 hours a day through the PennDOT website.

“As a racetrack and as a long-standing member of this community, we're thrilled to just play a little part in any way we can,” May said.