On most bright, sunny days, the race track at SpeedVegas, the tourist attraction south of Las Vegas that has drawn thousands of customers to drive high-powered exotic cars on a custom track, is humming with vehicles that can hit 200 mph and are worth up to $237,000.
But on Monday, the track was as silent as the desert surrounding it.
The doors were locked. The fences were closed. The vans that routinely transport customers from Strip resorts to the track and its beautiful two-story, 22,000-square-foot, $30 million hospitality center at 14200 Las Vegas Boulevard South, were parked.
SpeedVegas executives, communicating through the company’s Facebook page, said the facility has been closed until further notice as investigators from the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration determine why a Lamborghini Gallardo on an apparently routine run on the 1½-mile track — billed as the longest and fastest in the industry — lost control, crashed and burst into flames, killing two people on Sunday.
Clark County’s coroner’s office has yet to identify the two victims, a guest of the attraction who was driving the car, and a driving-instructor employee who was in the passenger seat. However, the family of Gil Ben-Kely confirmed him as the SpeedVegas instructor who died in the crash.
The accident at around 1:30 p.m., sent black smoke billowing from the track adjacent to Interstate 15 near Sloan.
“As a result of yesterday’s tragic accident, the track will be closed until further notice,” representatives of SpeedVegas said on the company’s Facebook page. “We appreciate your understanding and will send an update once we determine when we will reopen. Thank you for your support during this difficult time.”
INTERVIEW REQUEST DENIED
SpeedVegas co-founder and CEO Aaron Fessler declined interview requests Monday, but first posted about the accident Sunday on Facebook.
“Today, an accident on the track resulted in the deaths of a SpeedVegas employee and a customer,” the post said. “We are fully cooperating with investigators at this time. We are devastated by this tragic event and extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families and to our SpeedVegas team members who have lost a beloved colleague.”
It was initially reported that because the accident occurred on private property it was being investigated as an industrial accident by OSHA. It was clarified Monday that Nevada OSHA is leading the investigation.
A spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Business and Industry said a Nevada OSHA compliance officer was dispatched to the scene of the fatalities, but that she could not respond to questions about the investigation until the case is closed.
Spokeswoman Teri Williams said Nevada OSHA can issue an order to cease operations if it finds the “conditions that led to the injury or fatality cannot be corrected or avoided while normal business operations continue, thereby placing employees in imminent danger.”
She said the timeframe of reaching a determination is dependent on the investigation and the circumstances.
“If the investigation determines that a health or safety violation has occurred, Nevada OSHA has six months from the date of opening a formal investigation to issue citations to the employer,” Williams said in an email.
The Lamborghini Gallardo destroyed in the crash was not a new car that recently was delivered to the track.
SpeedVegas had begun promoting the Feb. 3 arrival of a Lamborghini Aventador, which could be driven for $99 a lap.
The Gallardo, which the SpeedVegas website says costs $59 a lap to drive with a five-lap minimum, had a 543-horsepower engine and could reach speeds of up to 199 mph. The Gallardo was worth $225,795, one of the most expensive vehicles in the SpeedVegas fleet.
Contact Richard N. Velotta at email@example.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.