Vibra-Whirl Sports, Ltd., is a southern-based firm that has been in existence since 1952. Vibra-Whirl is best known for installing running tracks and has done more than 3,500 since 1966, making the company the oldest running track installation service in the country.
Vibra-Whirl became one of the first companies to install the “infill” synthetic turf for football and multi-purpose fields in 1998, and has installed more than 100 fields for football, baseball, softball and soccer. Vibra-Whirl has installed three different artificial turf products at levels ranging from high school to college and professional football.
After several years of research and experience installing other products, Vibra-Whirl designed its own product, V-Turf.
“V-Turf product specifications exceed other big-name products,” said Mike Allen, a former Demon wide receiver (1993-95) who is vice president for Vibra-Whirl. “The big difference is we install our own product and do not sub-contract the turf installation like most other turf companies. We give our customers a superior product and installation at a very competitive price.
“There are about three manufacturers in the world of the actual turf fibers,” said Allen. “The fibers are taken and tufted into a backing material that is produced in a manufacturing plant. Most companies are buying the fiber material and either having them tufted at one of these plants or tufting themselves. The most important part of a synthetic turf field is the actual construction and installation – we know this from 11 years of experience. Vibra-Whirl was one of the first installers of this level of turf and has more experience than most others in the industry.”
The V-Turf is designed to last longer than other surfaces in the industry.
“V-Turf specifications are highlighted with a 42-ounce monofilament fiber with an all rubber infill. The 42-ounce face weight of this fiber is actually four ounces heavier than the leading turf product in the country,” said Allen. “That means the V-Turf product is more durable with this fiber, and the backing, which is made of 100 percent polyurethane as opposed to latex backing that our leading competitor uses.
“The all rubber infill system prevents severe compaction over the life of the field, unlike a rubber-sand mix infill that tends to compact and get hard after a few years of use,” he said. “The final advantage we have is installing our field over a new base material consisting of crushed stone rock for superior drainage.
“I know from my days playing on turf, there can be a big difference from surface to surface. I wish I could have played on V-Turf. It has been designed by a company that was hands-on doing installation of other leading surfaces, with the design bearing in mind what worked well, and what needed improvement,” he said. “It’s as good an artificial turf surface as any in the world.”
The work began a day after the April 8 Joe Delaney Bowl ended spring football practice. The first phase of the project required redefining drainage systems from the stadium’s surface, resulting in work to enhance flow of groundwater to nearby Chaplin’s Lake.
Removing the large turtlebacked crown in the middle of the stadium was a fundamental step in preparation to install the new turf. Heavy equipment shaved the crown to a very nearly flat field, as per the specifications for the turf.
“The crown on the new field has a two percent slope as opposed to the old artificial turf fields with large crowns,” said Allen. “There is no need for the large crown for drainage because drainage rock has been added to the base underneath the field, instead of asphalt.
“All concrete, asphalt, e-layer and drainage pipe was removed and replaced with a superior drainage system that is compatible with V-Turf,” said Allen.
The new turf at Turpin Stadium will extend nearly to the grandstands on either side and further behind each end zone.
Vibra-Whirl is using the Turpin Stadium installation as a launchpad for more similar projects.
“Although we have installed several high profile turf jobs with other products, we are proud to have the opportunity to take our new, advanced product, V-Turf, to the NCAA Division I level for the first time at Northwestern State University,” said Allen.
Other prominent installations of V-Turf recently have been the indoor practice facility at fabled Odessa-Permian (Texas) High School, the program that spawned the book and now NBC-TV show “Friday Night Lights,” and the playing field at Division II college power West Texas A&M. Also installing V-Turf is the U.S. Air Force at Cannon Air Force Base in Hobbs, N.M.