BRISTOL, Tenn.– Just as Colossus of Rhodes stood tall over the ancient world, Colossus of Bristol hangs tall over Thunder Valley.
First conceived in October of 2015 by Bruton and Marcus Smith, the new four-screen center-hung jumbotron makes its debut during this weekend’s NASCAR festivities at Bristol Motor Speedway. It will also be in place for this September’s Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol.
“Colossus was first imagined by Bruton and Marcus Smith, so we knew it would be big,” said Bristol Motor Speedway Executive Vice-President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell. “Every time I walk into the stadium, I’m blown away by their vision and by what our crew has accomplished. Basically, our build team put together a high-tech building three-stories tall and hung it in the sky.”
“To go from the original designs and models to seeing and hearing the real deal – this has been a larger than life process, every step of the way,” said Marcus Smith, chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc. and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “The unveiling of this system at Bristol Motor Speedway means a whole new level of entertainment and interactivity for fans of NASCAR, for football fans and for guests of events we haven’t even imagined yet. Colossus has transformed Bristol, and the state of Tennessee, into one of the most versatile and amazing entertainment destinations on the planet.”
Colossus hangs 104 to 110 feet off the ground depending on the temperature, according to Bristol Motor Speedway, and weighs nearly 700 tons. It’s held up in the air by a supporting ring that weighs 127 tons, 117 tons of cabling and four supporting towers, eating weighing 437 tons, placed outside turns 1, 2, 3 and 4.
The screens measure 63 feet wide by three stories tall and are 4.5 times larger and 20 feet closer to the stands than the previous scoring pylon. With 18-million pixels and nearly 54-million LED’s, the screens display 281-trillion different color combinations. According to Bristol Motor Speedway, Colossus has the “highest viewing quality of any permanent outdoor stadium display in the world” as it features 2880 x 1350 lines of resolution, compared to the average home HDTV screen at 1920 x 1080.
The track claims that Colossus “has a mighty roar” with 485 speakers powered by half a million watts. It provides a listening distance of “no more than 90 feet from speakers to ears.
Construction of Colossus took 155 days with the help of 200 workers.
“Last December, the towers were up, the cables were here and we were trying to figure out the process of raising the halo,” said Vice-President of Operations and Development for SMI Steve Swift. “All the connections had to be made at the same time while the structure was in the air. That was a very complex and challenging process with a very tight timeline. Someone suggested keeping the old infield scoring pylon in place just in case we couldn’t get it done in time. I jumped in and said ‘No, not an option.’ So the pylon came down and our safety net was gone.
“Watching everything come together was amazing,” Swift said. “There were some late nights with the Musco lights burning and freezing cold days when we were hanging steel, but the team made it look easy. All of us can look back now, laugh and appreciate everything we went through together.”