Musco Lighting add radiance to F1 tracks



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Musa Jibat on Coliseum MENA Image: Musa Jibat on Coliseum MENA & Musco Lighting

Musa Jibat has been associated with Musco Lighting for the last 12 years and as the Territory Manager, his extensive knowledge of lighting and vast experience has helped in driving the business development aspect of Musco in the Middle East region.

He has been involved in some of the prominent projects like the Bahrain Formula 1 Circuit, major football stadiums in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, several golf projects, and industrial large area lighting projects in the DP World.

His core strengths are Project Management, Team-building, Project Sales, Inventory, and Communication Skills.
 

Musco Lighting

Musco Lighting is a privately-owned American company that specializes in design, manufacture of sports and large area lighting systems. Based out of Oskaloosa, Iowa, US, Musco is responsible for lighting a full range of sports facilities like the 168,000-capacity Daytona International Speedway in Florida, US, to thousands of fields worldwide. Since 1976, Musco Lighting has specialized in the design and manufacture of sports and transportation/infrastructure lighting solutions around the world.

In a riveting talk exclusively with ‘Coliseum’, Musa Jibat, Territory Development Manager, Musco Lighting, UAE, revealed how the privately-owned American company took up the onerous task of ‘Lighting the Jeddah Corniche Formula 1 Circuit’ and how it was one of the most challenging projects they had to deal with recently.
 

‘Drive to Survive’ Series

He started off by revealing that F1 is getting a huge fan base after the Netflix ‘Drive to Survive’ Series.

Formula 1: ‘Drive to Survive’ is a documentary series produced in collaboration between Netflix and Formula One to give a behind-the-scenes look at the drivers and races of the Formula One World Championship.
 

Brief introduction

Musa Jibat informed that Musco Lighting is an American company established in 1976 and is privately-owned – “We design, manufacture, supply, and install sports lighting systems. We complete about 2,500 sports lighting projects in a year around the globe and manufacture around 120,000 units. In the past years alone, we have lit 60 major stadiums. We have our systems at 70-plus countries, 1,500 around the world out of which 170 specialize in after-sales and warranty. We give long-term performance warranty in the United States. We are headquartered in Iowa with three manufacturing facilities in South Korea, China and the United States.”

Musco was the track lighting designer and supplier for all of the four night races that took place in the 2021 F1 season with three back to back races in the Middle East.
 

Formula 1

Formula One is the highest class of international racing for open-wheel single-seater formula racing cars sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile.
 

Nuggets of information

 

Formula 1

  • Twenty-two F1 races were held in the 2021 season;
  • Twenty countries hosted F1 races in 2021;
  • Italy and Austria both had the races and out of the 22, four night races were held at the following circuits – the 70,000-capacity Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir (Bahrain Grand Prix), the 8,000-capacity Losail International Circuit in Lusail, Qatar (Qatar Grand Prix), the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabian Grand Prix), and the 60,000-capacity Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE (Abu Dhabi Grand Prix); and
  • The common thread binding all these four circuits is that Musco did the design, manufacturing and supply of the sports lighting system.

 

Jeddah Corniche Circuit

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is the newest and the latest – kind of new kid on the block. The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is a 6.174 km (3.836 mi) motor racing circuit built in the Red Sea port City of Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia. The circuit staged the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on December 5th, 2021, as the penultimate race on the 2021 Formula One season calendar.
 

Quick facts:

  • The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is owned by the Saudi Arabian Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and it is currently being operated by the Saudi Motorsports Company;
  • It’s a 6.174 kilometer track which is the longest street circuit with 27 turns;
  • It’s claimed to be the fastest street circuit in the F1 calendar currently with an average speed of 250 km per hour and a top speed of 322;
  • The venue boasts seven grandstands, three fan zones and can hold up to 60,000 spectators;
  • It was built in record eight months time;
  • Fifty companies participated in the construction and delivery of this F1 circuit that come from 30 countries; and
  • Musco was selected to do the design, supply and installation of the sports lighting system based on the company’s previous experiences.

 

Lighting design of a Formula 1 track

Jibat informed that the lighting system at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit had to cover a total area of 180,000 square meters including the runoffs – “This is equivalent to lighting 25 full-size football fields or 25 stadia. That’s why it’s a massive deal. It has 2,200 LED fittings installed on 627 poles that cover the entire area. The design meets FIA requirements of 1,500 lux horizontal, 2,000 lux vertical plus 1,000 lux horizontal on the runoffs and the system is equipped with a full-day max control system for fan engagement and showmanship.”
 

Major challenges:

  • First of all it is a street circuit and since it’s a street circuit at some point it opens its back up to the street network roads. So, it had to be temporary;
  • All the system had to be removable – what can be transported outside and stored at some point – “However, it was going to be up for 18 months before this happened. So, it had to be temporary but still meets a permanent structure requirement. So, that was one of the challenges”; and
  • Tight schedule – eight months from breaking ground to commissioning and since it was on the shores of the Red Sea in the middle of the City, accessibility was extremely difficult and there were 50 companies trying to get in at the same time and this was a major challenge.

 

Overcoming the challenges:

  • As a temporary system, Musco Lighting went with a total different design compared to what they have done at Bahrain or Yas Marina or any of the other circuits – “We went to the short pole with a short setback that was much closer to the track and created a uniform line of lights that follows the curves of the track. So, that was a new feature. So, when we did the short poles, it allowed us to have smaller structures that were manageable, you can move uphold with a fork lift which was very important.”;
  • The posts were mounted on overground seal basis that were 1.5 by 1.5 meters with counterweights on top, the counterweights were removable and the counterweights with the pole was designed to withstand permanent structures loading which is 100 miles per hour;
  • Schedule – “We couldn’t wait for a full design to be completed and then start the manufacturing. So, while we were working with the designers of the track, as soon as they finished a section, will complete the design, manufacture it, and ship it. And then deal with all the coordination on site between these sections. We built a simple and easy-to-install system that was key. The system was just like blocks being put on top of each other. All the fixtures came pre-empt from the factory so we didn’t have to do any tweaking onsite based on the design.”;
  • The enclosures that hold the drivers, the electronics – all came pre-wired and pre-tested and all the wires inside the pole came with easy plug-and-play connectors which helped Musco Lighting reduce the installation time significantly;
  • And then there were the mounts that go on grandstands, pit buildings, these structures that were built by other vendors – “So, we designed these universal mounts that go on any type of structure because there were no joints for them basically. We had to improvise, go for something easy-to-install and move forward. And, of course, we had an experience team on ground that has done other F1 tracks and we knew what the regulator’s requirements were, we could anticipate potential issues and plan forward; and
  • As far as the accessibility was concerned, during the daytime it was “crazy” – 50 companies trying to get together on site – “The night shift staffs was preparing the materials and transporting them to the locations on the track and then the day team comes, assembles everything and solves it”;
  • Close coordination with all the stakeholders and vendors on site – landscaping, contractors – “A lot of people we had to coordinate with on a daily basis because the schedule had to change all the time; and
  • Flexibility – “We had to be flexible, which is a very important aspect. Sometimes, we have a plan but things change and we try to be efficient and effective and move forward”.

 

Main takeaways:

  • Just like stadiums and arenas, each is unique and F1 circuits are all more so actually;
  • No one-size-fits-all – “We had to come up with a huge design that we haven’t done in the past with F1 circuits just to make it work basically; and
  • Proper planning – “Proper planning always goes a long way. The system that was easy-to-install, easy to move, easy to adapt to the environment – that was very important. Flexibility and adaptability were a must in such a short time-frame project.

 

Recipe for success

Musa Jibat and his team had all the ingredients in place – flexibility, streamlining operations, proper planning, and adaptability for which today Musco Lighting has tasted success while taking up the hugely challenging task of lighting up the Jeddah Corniche Circuit and Jibat very well knows that Formula 1 races are not only about adrenaline rush but also about fan engagement, entertainment and showmanship.

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