September 22, 2021 - 3:49 pm
Updated September 23, 2021 - 9:13 am
For local auto racing fans, NASCAR season might rival Christmas as the most wonderful time of the year. All the big-name drivers rumbling into town; the communion with like-minded fans; the roar of sheer horsepower; the mind-boggling speeds; the endless left-hand turning; the poise and control it takes to race that fast and that close. This weekend’s NASCAR festivities, highlighted by Sunday’s South Point 400 but including lots of other events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (lvms.com), ought to fill the tank of even the most super of superfans.
But why let the professional drivers have all the fun? Not counting the high-speed lane changes, risky maneuvers and frantic heel-toe work required by your daily commute, it turns out there are plenty of ways in Southern Nevada for you and your family to indulge your need for (perfectly safe) speed.
Fun for the whole pit crew
Las Vegas Mini Gran Prix
What: Opened in 1992, this is the longest-standing go-kart facility in Las Vegas. It boasts the largest go-kart track in town, not to mention a full arcade with prizes, a 90-foot slide, and several rides. Tickets range from $9.49 to $82.99 depending on what you want to ride and how many times.
Your ride: Go-Karts (54-inch height minimum; kids can ride with someone 14 or older in same kart for no additional charge); Euro High-Speed Karts (up to 47 mph; 14 years or older); Kiddie Karts (karts and track designed specifically for younger riders; minimum height 38 inches to 54 inches).
Contact: 1401 N. Rainbow Blvd.; lvmgp.com
What: Operated by Exotics Racing, this outdoor track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway features four configurations, all designed by professional race car drivers. Prices range from $35-$90 for ages 14 and up, and $30-$75 for drivers 10-13. Walk-ins welcome. In addition, the venue hosts multiple races throughout the year for avid go-kart fans 15 years and up.
Your ride: Powered by four-stroke gas engines and said to be faster than indoor versions, these go-karts are linked to timing software, and lap times are posted around the venue on television screens; drivers can also track their lap times on the Vegas Superkarts app.
Contact: At Las Vegas Motor Speedway; vegassuperkarts.com
What: No inhaling smelly exhaust fumes with the electric go-karts on this indoor track. All races are timed, so you’re competing against family, friends and complete strangers. The cost is $50 for two junior races, $60 for two adult races. Pole Position offers three levels of annual memberships that can include perks like discounts, free races, and T-shirts. It accepts walk-ins, large and small groups, and birthday parties.
Your ride: Two go-kart options: adult (56 inches and taller) and junior (age 6 and at least 48 inches tall)
Also: Pole Position has Omni Arena, a virtual reality racing experience with motion technology.
Contact: 4175 S. Arville St.; vegas.polepositionraceway.com
Get in the driver’s seat
What: Supercar driving experience — choose from many high-performance autos, and drive them on a custom track designed to Formula One standards. In the passenger seat, an instructor coaches you to greater performance. Prices range from $199 to $299 for five laps, with customized, multi-car packages available.
Your ride: McLaren, Lamborghini, Corvette, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Mustang and more (including, starting next year, Tesla).
Also: You can ride along with a professional high-speed driver or drift-car driver.
Contact: At Las Vegas Motor Speedway
What: Said to be the longest supercar racetrack in Las Vegas, this venue offers more than a dozen supercar options, plus off-road vehicles. Depending on the package you choose, the cost ranges from $279.99 for the Ultimate Shelby Experience to $1,099 for Battle of Legends (five laps each in a Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini). And for those who need them, SpeedVegas offers four ADA-compliant cars with hand controls.
Your ride: In addition to those mentioned above, selections include Corvette, Tesla, BMW, Challenger and Camaro.
Also: Ride-along experiences in which you sit passenger to an expert driver.
Contact: 14200 Las Vegas Blvd. South (near Sloan); speedvegas.com
What: Holder of a 2014-2021 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, Dream Racing lets clients zoom their favorite supercar through a 1.2-mile, nine-turn track. Prices begin in the mid-$200 range for five laps in a Mercedes-Benz or Aston Martin, and go up from there depending on the car(s) and number of laps.
Your ride: A rich selection of Ferraris, Porsches, Lamborghinis and more.
Contact: At Las Vegas Motor Speedway; dreamracing.com
Take the scenic route
Hollywood Cars Museum
What: Here you’ll find 30,000 square feet of vehicles from more than 100 movies, TV shows and commercials. Notable cars: five James Bond vehicles, Batmobiles from both TV and film adaptations, vehicles from the first “Fast and Furious” film, the “Back to the Future” DeLorean, and cars from “Robocop.” You want more old school? Herbie the Love Bug is here, as is the jalopy from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Admission is $20; kids under 16 get in free when accompanied by a paid-for adult
Contact: 5115 Dean Martin Drive, No. 905; hollywoodcarsmuseum.com
Count’s Kustoms Las Vegas Car Tour Experience
What: Owner Danny “Count” Koker is the star of History’s “Counting Cars,” which features his Count’s Kustoms hot rod and chopper restoration shop. Take a bus around Las Vegas with a knowledgeable tour guide to see Count’s Kustoms, WelderUp (customization shop owned by Steve Darnell), the Shelby Museum and the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. You’ll visit filming locations for “Counting Cars” and “Vegas Rat Rods,” seeing dozens of classic cars and custom vehicles during the four-hour tour. Tickets are $99.
Contact: 2714 S. Highland Drive; countskustoms.com
What: Car customizing shop that specializes in restoring once-junk vehicles. Some of the cars in the WelderUp showroom and collection have been featured in national publications such as Hot Rod magazine, Diesel Power magazine and Rat Rod magazine and on shows such as “Vegas Rat Rods.” Free self-guided tours daily or schedule a guided tour led by WelderUp owner Steve Darnell. Scheduled tours start at $89 per person and last approximately 1½ hours. T-shirt and autographed photo included.
Contact: 3160 S. Highland Drive, Suite D; welderup.com
Carroll Shelby Heritage Center
What: This 15,000-square-foot facility offers patrons a chance to walk through the life, career history and cars of automotive visionary Carroll Shelby. (He was played by Matt Damon in “Ford v Ferrari.”) The experience includes an ever-changing display of up to 40 cars featuring original prototypes and some of Shelby’s personal vehicles. General admission is free; a $49 VIP tour includes a guided tour of the Shelby Heritage Center, behind the scenes, real-time viewing of the Shelby American Modification Shop next door,a chance to sign the Shelby Signature Wall, and a gift bag with Shelby merchandise.
Contact: 6405 Ensworth St.; shelby.com