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SPEEDVEGAS

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14200 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89054

702-874-8888

website

$99 and up

Daily

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AT A GLANCE

What is it?

A performance driving experience on a purpose built track, the longest in Las Vegas.

Where is it?

About 12 miles south of The Strip along Interstate 15.

Is it worth the cost?

Absolutely worth every penny. If you're a driving fan you can't miss this.

What else do I need to know?

The 1.5 mile track has over 60' of elevation changes.

What's the bottom line?

Forget the roller coaster, this is what real thrills look like.

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PREVIEW

Thrills are a dime a dozen in Las Vegas. You've got the crazy rides atop the Stratosphere or the wild roller coaster at New York-New York. You can soar high with a helicopter ride or a zip line down Fremont Street in Downtown. Or heck, you could put $500 on red at the roulette table and really get your blood pumping.

But for my money, there really is not greater thrill than going really, really fast in a really, really nice car. There are several places you can do that in Las Vegas but the newest, and in my opinion most thrilling is SPEEDVEGAS.

Located on the far south side of town, the attraction features a 1.5 mile track where you can drive some of the coolest performance cars in the world. Among their fleet are Italian supercars like the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Lamborghini Huracan, the best of German speed machines like the Porsche 911 GT3 or the Mercedes AMG GT-S, Japanese rockets like the Nissan GT-R, and good old American muscle such as the Corvette Z06 and Shelby GT.

There are several things that make this track different than the competition in Vegas. First, whereas other performance driving experiences are done at existing race tracks or in makeshift courses, SPEEDVEGAS is the first purpose built performance driving track in the country. At 1.5 miles it is the longest in Las Vegas and features 12 turns, sixty feet of elevation change, and a half-mile straightaway so you can really see what these machines can do.

When you arrive, you are welcomed with a quick iPad check-in and given an RFID bracelet so the team on site can know who you are and what you're doing there. It's handy and just high-tech enough to add a modern sheen to the concept of go fast.

You can choose a specific car in advance, which is probably recommended since these beauties get booked up during peak times. So if you just won't be happy if you aren't driving a Lambo, specify that when you make the reservation. Or you could leave it to the winds of fate and review the fleet when you get there. They'll let you sit in them, adjust the seats and steering wheel, and more just so you can make sure you're getting a good fit. Warning, some of these cars were not built for people well over six feet tall and their helmets.

After that you are given a briefing on the best ways to maximize the experience in terms of the track and the vehicle. Then you're suited up with a helmet so you can go fulfill your need for speed.

A professional driver is in the passenger seat and has some emergency controls at their disposal just in case you decide to try to do something stupid with their very expensive cars. The experiences can go from three laps up to, well, as many as you want to pay for but four or five laps is usually pretty standard. Don't worry - if you get out there and decide you just can't bring that baby back into pit row after only five laps, they will have in-car technology that will allow you to purchase more on the fly.

It isn't cheap, but if you can afford it I highly recommend you do five laps at a minimum. The track is just tricky enough and the cars are just powerful enough that it'll take you two or three just to turn off that little portion of your brain that tells you to slow down and be careful.

I drove a Lamborghini Huracan and other than the fact that I kind of had to slouch in the seat to fit (I'm 6'3"), it is an impressive piece of machinery. Touch the accelerator and you're doing insane speeds in seconds and the steering is so reactive that small movements take care of all but the most intense of turns.

The track is a lot of fun but a little intimidating for those first couple of laps. The elevation changes create some situations where you can't see some of the braking zones or turns until they are right in front of you, which would be fine if you were doing 25 miles per hour in a Toyota Camry but not when you're doing 120 in a rocket with four wheels. And those turns are a hell of a lot of fun but some of them are much tricky, with apexes that aren't where you think they should be.

The good news is that not only is the track fully marked with cones and stripes showing you where to go high, where to cut in, where to brake, and more. Plus the instructor sitting in the passenger seat will give you constant advice including, if you need it, when to up and downshift on the steering mounted paddle shifters (you can also choose automatic mode if you prefer). With me a good portion of the first two laps was him basically saying "go faster" since it took that long for me to feel really comfortable and let go of my sense of self-preservation.

Still, even with all the preparation and safety equipment involved, you need to be aware that things can go wrong. A customer and an instructor were killed at this track in February of 2017 when the car they were in spun out of control, hit a wall, and burst into flames. These types of incidents are very rare and you're probably safer behind the wheel of one of their cars on a controlled road course than you are in your minivan on a road full of people who are much busier texting than they are driving. Still, the incident points out the fact that this is something you should take seriously - pay attention to the instructor and don't push yourself farther than you feel comfortable.

If the idea of driving one of these really powerful machines at insane speeds is just a little too, well, insane to you, you could opt for a ride-along experience where a professional driver will take you out on the track and basically try to scare you to death.

Before and after your drive you can spend time in their welcome center where you'll find training areas, a driver's lounge, a Sambalatte coffee shop to get you amped up if you need it, observation decks so your friends and family can watch you pretend you a Formula 1 driver, garages, meeting space, and more.

They will also eventually be adding more tracks and experiences including kart and drag racing.

Getting there is easy. It's located right off Interstate 15 about 12 miles south of Mandalay Bay. If you have a car at your disposal, just jump on the freeway and you're there in no time. If you need a lift, they will have a free shuttle bus running on The Strip.

Costs vary depending on which car you get and how many laps you drive. For instance, four laps in a Corvette will run you about $200 while five laps in the 458 Italia will set you back $445. A two-lap ride-along is $99. So yeah, not cheap, but it is a thrill that will make it feel totally worth the cost.

You can read more about SPEEDVEGAS, browse their inventory, check out driving packages, and make reservations on their website at SPEEDVEGAS.com or call them at 702-874-8888.

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