Court hearing on SpeedVegas set for April 6

Updated March 23, 2017 - 10:17 pm

A hearing has been set for April 6 in Clark County District Court to consider an emergency motion to close the SpeedVegas track south of Las Vegas where customers pay to drive or ride in cars that go more than 150 mph on a 1½-mile course.

District Court Judge Joe Hardy will hear the motion filed on behalf of Francisco Durban, a former SpeedVegas driving instructor since March 2016, who filed a civil lawsuit seeking an order to close the track, which he alleges “is inherently, excessively and unnecessarily dangerous in design and operation.”

The motion was filed Tuesday and on Thursday the judge agreed to hear it.

SpeedVegas CEO Aaron Fessler emailed Wednesday that allegations made in the lawsuit were not true and he and his company would fight the complaint in court.

Fessler said three experts with a combined total of 75 years of expertise in track design said the SpeedVegas track was safe and that was the basis of his decision to open the track 12 days after the crash of a Lamborghini Aventador that killed two people on Feb. 12. Fessler voluntarily closed the track, but reopened after being assured that the facility was safe.

Fessler sent a March 15 letter to local hotel contacts and concierges explaining the review by experts, which included Aaron Weiss, owner of AMW Motorsports Consulting; Ben Willshire, managing director of Driven-International; and Robert Barnard, a motor sports consultant who designed the SpeedVegas track.

“Our data and analysis support a theory that the driver of the vehicle experienced a serious medical issue prior to the impact or resulting fire,” Weiss’ statement said.

But Durban’s attorneys will likely argue that the Aventador involved in the accident had brake problems and was not suitable to be used on the track because it was a roadster with a convertible top that didn’t have a roll bar or cage.

The lawsuit also said “numerous aftermarket modifications: brakes, rear wing/spoiler and exhaust system” to the car that also had been subject to a safety recall notice.

The lawsuit also complained that the track was unsafe and that a concrete barrier was too close to the turn where the car crashed and burst into flames.

After the accident, the track’s driving instructors, including Durban, were required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, perform a road test on the track and sign an acknowledgment form that the track was safe before they could return to work. Durban didn’t sign it and hasn’t worked since.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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