Amateur racer questions speedway's reduced drag strip schedule
Most drivers understand speed can kill, which is why a local program called "Midnight Mayhem" aims to keep amateur racers on the speedway and off Valley roads.Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Most drivers understand speed can kill, which is why a local program called "Midnight Mayhem" aims to keep amateur racers on the speedway and off Valley roads.
So why has the number of scheduled races for the program declined from previous years?
"When I looked online, it was a lot fewer than the last years I went to it," said racer Cliff Keever, who turned to Action News to get answers.
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosts Midnight Mayhem, allowing street cars to race one another on the drag strip in a legal and controlled setting on some Friday nights. As part of the rules, the vehicles must be registered, the drivers must be licensed and everyone needs valid insurance.
"They have paramedics. It's legal. You don't have to worry about cops or getting your car impounded like most of the kids do," said Keever.
Keever said he started checking the event schedule after January's race was rained out. He said the races make Valley roads safer for all drivers by giving racers a set place to compete. So why not add races instead of reduce them?
Action News visited the drag strip at the track to get some answers.
"Lord knows how many lives we've saved with this program over the years," said Speedway president Chris Powell.
Powell said 13 races are scheduled for 2013, down from a peak of 20 in 2005.
Why the changes? The Speedway has a packed schedule for the upcoming year, Powell said. While most people link the facility to NASCAR races, it actually hosts events year-round. Secondly, the event takes time and staff to put on. And Powell said more Midnight Mayhem events don't necessarily mean a better showing.
"If you have too many Midnight Mayhems, instead of getting 300-400 cars, you end up getting 100-150 or so," said Powell.
The next Midnight Mayhem is set for April 19 at 9 p.m. Keever hopes local racers will one day get a drag strip of their own.
"Maybe a low-budget track, just so we can get it off the streets and do it more often," said Keever.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said they respond to isolated cases of street racing, but the department does not keep specific numbers. However, police said when racers do take to regular city streets, the end result is usually tragic.