weather icon Mostly Cloudy

‘Substandard’ safety not factor in SpeedVegas crash, report says

Updated July 31, 2017 - 5:16 pm

SpeedVegas had a substandard fire and safety plan and failed to properly train employees in fire suppression, but that wasn’t a contributing factor in an accident that killed two people in February, Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration office reported.

The agency, which reviewed the crash as a workplace accident, recommended fines totaling $16,000 on three citations involving seven violations.

SpeedVegas CEO Aaron Fessler acknowledged receiving documents and said the company is evaluating its next steps.

“We take safety concerns seriously and will continue to maintain the safest experience available,” Fessler said in an emailed statement.

“We are pleased that these citations say nothing to indicate that the track design or safety procedures are substandard,” he said. “We were not surprised that OSHA did not cite these areas because our driving experience is unique among similar driving opportunities.”

An inspection narrative for an investigation completed July 25 also said the agency did not have the resources to reach a conclusion on whether the installation of aftermarket brakes on the Lamborghini Aventador involved in a crash at the track south of Las Vegas were a direct cause of the accident.

No track standards

The agency also said there were no applicable standards for track design that apply to SpeedVegas. After the Feb. 12 accident in which which Canadian tourist Craig Sherwood and track driving instructor Gil Ben-Kely died in the fiery crash, critics said they believed the design of the track to be unsafe. SpeedVegas officials maintained that the track was safe and reopened 12 days after the accident.

The Review-Journal received a redacted inspection narrative and the citation and notification of penalties Monday through requests to Nevada OSHA.

SpeedVegas received the hand-delivered citations by certified mail on Wednesday and could contest them and the penalties within 15 working days of that delivery — by Aug. 17.

The citations listed two serious violations with proposed fines of $7,000 and $4,000, two “other-than-serious” violations and three regulatory notices, each including proposed fines of $1,000 each.

A list of violations and proposed penalties was discussed by OSHA officials in a July 25 meeting with SpeedVegas executives Darren Strahl, executive vice president of operations, and Johnny McMahon, chief operating officer.

Companies cited by OSHA are given the opportunity to challenge or appeal proposed citations and penalties.

Violation details

Seven issues were noted in three citations proposed by OSHA:

— Serious violation: SpeedVegas did not provide training and education for all fire brigade members. Such training is necessary before they perform fire brigade emergency activities. Must be abated by Aug. 15. Proposed penalty: $7,000.

— Serious violation: SpeedVegas provided portable fire extinguishers for employee use in the workplace and but did not provide an educational program on their use. Abatement date: Aug. 10. Proposed penalty: $4,000.

— Other-than-serious violation: SpeedVegas was required to have a workplace hazard assessment with written certification. On the date of the accident, there was no certification that fire and safety teams members had the assessment. Abatement date: Aug. 5. Proposed penalty: $1,000.

— Other-than-serious violation: On the date of the accident, SpeedVegas had not prepared a required organizational statement establishing the existence of a fire brigade. Abatement date: Aug. 5. Proposed penalty: $1,000.

— Regulatory notice: At the time of the accident, SpeedVegas did not have a safety committee, a requirement of an employer with more than 25 employees. Abatement date: Aug. 5. Proposed penalty: $1,000.

— Regulatory notice: At the time of the accident, SpeedVegas did not have a written safety program that includes an explanation of the methods used to identify, analyze and control new and existing hazardous conditions. Abatement date: Aug. 5. Proposed penalty: $1,000.

— Regulatory notice: At the time of the accident, SpeedVegas did not have a written safety program that listed procedures that must be followed to investigate an accident which has occurred and the corrective actions that would be initiated. Abatement date: Aug. 5. Proposed penalty: $1,000.

The inspection narrative explaining the investigation said because the car burst into flames after hitting a concrete wall, the lack of a properly trained fire brigade was not considered a contributing factor of the fatal accident.

Brake replacements

Another part of the investigation involved SpeedVegas’ decision to replace the factory-issued carbon ceramic brakes on the Aventador with aftermarket two-piece aluminum and cast-iron brake rotor assemblies manufactured by Bellingham, Washington-based Girodisc.

Fessler told OSHA investigators that using the Girodisc assemblies was preferred because the high amount of high-speed braking that is inherent in high-performance car experiences like his. He said the carbon ceramic brakes wouldn’t be as effective with continuous high-speed braking as the replacement system.

OSHA investigators tried to find and review video recordings of the accident but there were no cameras aimed at the crash site.

“Nevada OSHA does not specialize in vehicle braking components nor do we have recognized standards for motor vehicles and as a result, I could not determine whether the (Girodisc) rotors and pads were a direct cause of the accident, nor determine if they were inferior,” the report narrative said.

OSHA had similar comments about the track design.

Not a racetrack

Fessler told investigators SpeedVegas is a driving track, not a racetrack, and cars don’t run simultaneously. It was designed by Robert Barnard, who consulted standards posted by Paris-based Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, for its design, but SpeedVegas is not an FIA-sanctioned track.

Because OSHA can only measure standards based on local statutes and codes, the track’s design was not an issue.

“After reviewing local statutes, codes, standards and other recognized industry standards, I determined that there were no applicable standards at the time of the accident for the track use and track design at SpeedVegas,” the report narrative said.

Said Fessler: “Our experience represents the most thoughtful, safe, well-designed motorsports experience of its kind, anywhere in the world. Safety always has been and always will be the top priority. While we may not agree with the proposed citations, we have worked well with OSHA and are evaluating our next steps like any responsible employer.”

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


Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Plenty of work remains on Drew Las Vegas

The former Fontainebleau — the blue-tinted tower that has blighted the Strip for a decade — is slated to open as the Drew in the second quarter of 2022.