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Behind-the-scenes look at X Games buildout

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Dave Doolittle

Editor’s note: This article was originally published May 29, 2014

With one week to go before competition begins at Austin’s inaugural X Games, crews are continuing to put together the courses, ramps, obstacles and temporary grandstands at Circuit of the Americas.

The games were announced for Austin last year. After months of planning, crews and equipment began arriving May 15 and work began outright on May 19, said Rich Bigge, ESPN X Games director of competition and logistics.

Crews have been working daily from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and will continue to work “right up to that first practice” on Tuesday, Bigge said.

Rains this week slowed construction slightly, but Bigge said he expects work to be done on time and correctly.

“We want to make sure that everything is where it needs to be, how it needs to be when these athletes show up,” Bigge said. “They’re our first priority. That’s why we’re here, and if we feel something’s not right we won’t do something until it is right.”

Dirt is being shaped in front of the Turn 1 grandstands where the BMX dirt competition will be held. Riders this year will be starting near the top of the hill and working their way down through a series of twists and jumps.

Elsewhere, work continues on the “Park” and “Street” courses, which have been set up along the main straight in front of the main grandstands. Behind the pit and paddock building, the skeleton of the Big Air ramp has been erected. Crews on Thursday were adding plywood surfaces that will eventually be covered in Skatelite, a paper composite material designed to cover skateboard and BMX ramps.

Farther back on the track, about 11,000 cubic yards of dirt have been trucked in near Turn 12 that will make up the MotoCross courses and part of the rally and stadium super trucks track.

To protect the asphalt, which is specially designed for Formula One, crews have laid down plastic sheets, carpet and plywood before putting down dirt or other structures.

“Every day we’re trying to make sure we’re being smart about it,” Bigge said. “The track … has a great crew that’s been able to work with me closely and if problems do arise, or I think there’s going to be a problem, they’re the first ones I go to and am able to talk to about it. They’ve been a big help in helping me protect that track.”

The Games are scheduled for June 5 through 8 mostly at the Southeast Austin race track. For more information, visit www.xgamesaustin.com.

For more photos of Thursday’s work, click here.

Update:Rich Bigge’s title in this story has been corrected.