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A double win at scene of Indy 500

Christopher Bienusa (right) of Alexandria walked the Indy 500 track with the three other competitors in the Hot Wheel's World's Best Driver Championship Saturday. (Contributed photo)1 / 3
Christopher Bienusa was treated like a true Indy 500 champion, even getting a wreath of flowers and a jug of chocolate milk, after winning the Hot Wheels Championship at Indianapolis Saturday. (Contributed photo)2 / 3
Alexandria Industries employees who were involved in the Hot Wheels' track project had their photo taken with racing legend, Mario Andretti. (Contributed photo)3 / 3

Alexandria was a double winner in a special racing event that took place last Saturday on the eve of the Indy 500.

First, a local company, Alexandria Industries, created the world's longest toy track for the "Hot Wheels World's Best Driver Championship" held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Next, an Alexandria kid won the whole works.

Twelve-year-old Christopher Bienusa, a student at Woodland Elementary School who has no connection with Alexandria Industries, was one of four kids, not professional race car drivers, who set a world record in front of a roaring crowd.

Staged on the front straightaway of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the kids raced Hot Wheels cars on a one-mile-long, four-lane toy racetrack.

Kids were invited from all over the country to compete in the World's Best Driver Championship. Coached by racing legends Mario and John Andretti, Bienusa emerged as the victor.

He celebrated in traditional Indy 500 fashion by drinking a bottle of milk and kissing the fabled Yard of Bricks on the speedway.

"Standing on the track that they are going to play on tomorrow, it feels really nice because I raced on this track and won already," Bienusa said in an interview with Hot Wheels right after his big win. "So it feels like I'm a winner of the Indy 500."

For Alexandria Industries, making customized aluminum extrusions that meet customers' exact specifications takes serious expertise. This time around, there was an extra level of fun to it.

The track consisted of four one-mile-long lanes arranged side by side in a giant oval, powder-coated in the iconic Hot Wheels orange.

The project's 1,494 straight and curved track sections demanded engineering expertise and close attention to dimensions and tolerances to ensure each section fits perfectly.

Alexandria Industries team members created each section with aluminum extruding. The process involved heating a billet, or log, of aluminum and pushing it through a die, creating the track shape.

To make the precision curved sections, team members enclosed the track in a custom, form-fitting plastic mold and used a process called stretch-forming, which stretches the extrusion around the form tool to keep its track shape while bending.

"This project brought out the kid in our entire team," said Tom Schabel, CEO, Alexandria Industries. "Working with Mattel to provide engineering assistance and create a new world record while bringing joy to so many young racing fans during the Indy 500 weekend was an honor."

You can view the track in action and Bienusa's big win on YouTube at "World's Best Driver Championship: World Record Track."


Fun facts about the world's longest toy track made by Alexandria Industries:

•4,674 pounds of aluminum were used to make the track. That's enough aluminum for 149,568 cans of soda, which if laid end to end, would be longer than 3,432 Indy race cars parked end to end.

•In the extrusion process, the aluminum was heated to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, about the same temperature as the surface of Venus.

•1,056 Hot Wheels speed boosters were mounted along the track to propel the toy cars.

•Four 1:64-scale diecast Hot Wheels Camaros were raced on the track.

•The 9.07 miles per hour top speed for a 1:64 toy car equals 580 mph for a life-size scale car.


Alexandria Industries, with ISO 9001:2008-certified facilities (including Alexandria Extrusion), is a privately held, short lead-time producer of engineered products. From prototype development through final production, the company delivers customized aluminum extrusions, precision machining of ferrous and non-ferrous products, heatsinks, high-level assemblies, welding, and plastic injection and foam molding components that meet customers' specifications. The company is headquartered in Alexandria with manufacturing locations in Minnesota, Indiana and Texas.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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