When Bridgestone invited us to a new product launch at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, I was somewhat wistful as I thought about the passing of Dan Wheldon at the speedway at the final race of last year’s Indycar season. I knew it would be tough to visit the track without thinking of the popular driver. Still, I had never been to the Speedway (or Vegas for that matter) so I was excited to visit. All I can say is WOW!
All in one place! LVMS is the kind of place that gearheads dream of.
Arriving on a shuttle, the first building one notices in a long strand of racing businesses is Shelby’s headquarters. As we drover further into the complex, I was blown away by the sheer size of the place. The only big speedway I have been to is Pocono, and LVMS is easily 3 times the size. There are race tracks all over the place. We saw 2 road courses, the big oval, a bullring, an off road truck course and there is the NHRA drag strip. Just massive.
Throughout the day, the background was filled with the sounds of the U.S. Airforce, as pilots performed training maneuvers. The day before, guests were treated to a real show as the Thunderbirds did some practice.
When a Shelby Cobra went by on a test drive, you knew it was the real deal.
To guide their tire industry attendees and us media types through the day, Bridgestone had assembled a star studded cast of drivers. Our instructors in the early morning included Pierre Kleinubing, Peter Cunningham and Burt Frissell. Later on, the big surprise came as we learned that Mario Andretti was also on hand and would be joining us for lunch.
Before lunch though, we had to flog a BMW 3 Series around a fast autocross course, before heading over to Exotics Racing, where we would get to play with a collection of Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s. I drove a Lamborghini Gallardo LP550 for the first time. For a machine with 550 or so horsepower, it was surprisingly manageable. Equally surprising was how high the limits of the car are. With just five laps, I was nowhere close to exploring the limits of the car. It would be fun to have a bit more seat time to actually get comfortable with the limits of the bull.
To get a taste of our day, head past the jump to check out our photo gallery.