When I skated for the first time at L’Aquila’s track prior to Worlds’04, I couldn`t believe my senses. What was that reddish matter that looked like a pool table, felt like sandpaper and tasted like bricks? (Yes, I even licked it. I’m curious, you know?). Ah, to skate over it! Furious grip at maximum speed? An utter “Wow!” was in order. Right that moment Sabatino Aracu smiled at me and said: “Future tracks will be all like this one”.
Geisingen Arena: amazing
Be it for a correct prophecy or a commercial agreement, the fact is that today’s homologated tracks are really made that way by a firm named Vesmaco, located in central Italy. I’ve been in contact with this company for years now, relying on MrsIsabella Romagnoli’s courtesy and knowledge whenever I needed information about their products. So by the end of summer I arranged with her a visit to their factory, in order to see by myself how the spawning process of a world class track is, then report it to you, my beloved four or five readers.
I am greeted in Ancona by an elegant and pleasant elderly gentleman called Romano Cacciani, owner of the company. After superb pasta we reach his plant, which is impressive by all means, but more so because its large parking lot is completely covered by our tracks’ material! Heck, how many of us would kill to have something like this to skate on? Stepping inside the plant into the reception the visitor finds a few samples of Vesmaco’s production, the one that obviously catches my full attention is a scale model of a skating rink: can I have it for my living room?
Romano: great guy
At the top floor we reach the company’s luxurious offices, where I’ll uncover the sweetest surprise of my site inspection: a pair of Etruscan goddess are guarding the Boss’ suite. One’s Alessia, lovely young lady for the time being in charge of Isabella’s job (while she’s delivering her newborn); the other deity is none the less than Cacciani’s daughter, Claudia. A classy and smart beauty, she’s worth the whole trip, believe me…Or better yet, check her out yourself:
Claudia: top lady
Mr Cacciani wakes me up with a slap and starts recounting the company’s story… As it is, Romano used to build all sorts of sporting infrastructures. One day he decided to be his own provider of explicit surfaces for such infrastructures. So these “paints” or specific resins were born, since then being developed to cover not only pitches but a vast array of floors: parkings, helipads, cycle paths, etc. Actually, since the eighties Vesmaco was already building small skating tracks all around Italy, commissioned by city councils or parishes. Established as a reliable and experienced supplier, Vesmaco was granted L’ Aquila’s track construction, the first homologated ever. The rest, as they say, is history.
Watching it below from his office’s window, I ask Mr Cacciani if I can have a look at the production area. Permission obtained; firstly I’m impressed by the fact that most of their 6000 square meters of plant space are storing big cans of finished products ready to be dispatched the world over. Next, I’m even more impressed to verify that in order to manufacture the material that allows our best champions to fly on wheels, there is no need for an army of workers. In fact, there’s only half a dozen of them, mixing powders and fluids into arcane machines. Amazing! Mr Cacciani explains that he can’t cope with a greater demand because he’s not able to hire more personnel, above all the specialized technicians that supervise the product’s application on site wherever a new track is built.
But most times Vesmaco does it all, from the planning stages to the actual construction and final product lying. They are responsible for the magnificent Geisingen Arena, among other fine tracks, and Cacciani also mentions that one in Ecuador is in an advanced developing stage, while they’re finishing another in Monterrey (Mexico), but regrets that Guarne’s project was never materialised in spite of early negotiations.
Now we find ourselves in front of a massive pile of canisters containing all types of skating specific products… In particular, homologated tracks employ a resin called durflex®: its first version (originally requested by FIRS) is the “101 SP roller profesional”, but from 2004 there have been new blends for different kinds of tarmac (even indoor), all of them homologated by FIRS as well. Recently a cheaper version of the product has been produced, called “200 SP”, which can be applied by the track builders themselves (though not homologated as yet). But what really makes me shiver in pleasure is Mr Cacciani’s newest brilliant creation: durflex® 100. Take note, folks: when Euros ’10 was assigned to San Benedetto, local chiefs were anxious knowing that their track not only had mere 180mts, but it was made in horrible concrete with large gaps like trenches… There, yet another proof that every important tournament is born from political chess games! Off-topic aside, Mr Romolo Bugari (event’s alma-mater, world champ in his time) desperately asked Cacciani to help him fix such a mess, in order to avoid a continental sized embarrassment. So he did, and after many alchemic experiments Cacciani conceived the SP101 little brother: SP100. This blend is ideal to convert and refurbish old concrete tracks, over which SP101 can be applied later on. Allow me to recap: with this new product entering the market just now at a much lower price than SP101, do you realize the sheer amount of obsolete/abandoned tracks in the world that could be homologated? Yep, go on and get your piggy bank.
In any case, durflex® SP101 is much better stuff, no doubt. Mr Cacciani invites me to have a snowcone in nearby Senigallia, while we visit its new government funded homologated track. It is 200 metres of beautiful blue, in which skating becomes a sensual experience: I would say that between this track and San Benedetto’s, exists a difference like caressing a 20 year old female skater’s buttock, and stroking the furry tummy of a sexagenarian federal president. No, I’m not overstating.
Sounds good, yes. But I can’t avoid being myself, launching an unwelcomed critic to nice Romano. “Look, old chap, did you notice how do skaters peel themselves every time they crash over your stuff?”, I state at point-blank. He keeps his cool, maybe weighting my potential idiocy, and proceeds to answer with an irrefutable argument: “I just formulated whatever they asked me to, which was a surface offering high grip and smooth gliding over flat asphalt, considering today’s wheels materials. If you want me to, I could produce a more fine-grained and less adherent floor, but the manufacturing process of skating wheels ought to be modified, otherwise you would be slipping all over the track”. Hey, here’s an idea for the few morons that freely decide technical aspects about which they have only trivial knowledge… What’s more profitable, making new wheel materials or replacing knees, elbows, femora? “But there might be another solution”, goes on Cacciani. My sick mind immediately wanders over integral anti-gravity skinsuits, or an energy field like Fantastic Four’s chick; alas Romano kills my whim in a nanosecond. “It’s only a question of getting a lower density floor under the superficial resins”, he said. Excuse me, what do you mean? “Right”, he patiently explains, “bear with me: a body rebounding against a dense floor absorbs more vibrations that rebounding against a less dense floor, right?” I think about it for a moment and attempt to be clever: ok, but you can barely alterate asphalt/cement’s density. “What are you going to put under the resin? Sand?” Mr Cacciani smiles quizzically, handles me a black dotted block about the size of a brick, although almost weightless. Closely observing it, seems like rubber with small chunks of tarmac. In fact, they call it gommasfalto (rubberasphalt), a material with tarmac’s durometer gauge but a quarter its density. It easy and intuitive to picture ourselves skating over a track made of this stuff at normal speeds, wheeling away with no noticeable difference than a polished track… but in case of crash it would be like falling on a hard mattress. Fook me!
I keep strolling about the narrow streets of lovely Senigallia with this charming little fellow, who’s crafting tomorrow’s tracks today. I wish I had him as father-in-law!
New homologated blueprints
As a gift from the good guys at Vesmaco, we have the new blueprints for homologated tracks (the old ones are obsolete). There are only low-res pictures: should you be SERIOUS about building one in your area, ask me for higher resolutions blueprints and files (otherwise don’t waste my time and bandwith, thanks). Check them at the proper page >>