First in, first out for NASCAR fans

First to the races will be first to leave.

Come late, and you will be the last go.

It doesn’t get much easier than that for NASCAR race fans pining to hear the roar of engines, the whir of tires being changed and the boos for Tony Stewart.

The traffic plan for the 2008 NASCAR races at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is in place with minor tweaks from last year’s race, as officials again rely on patience from 325,000 motorists who are going to be shepherded into and out of the speedway gates.

Motorists who arrive at the speedway first will be allowed to park closest to the exits, thus expediting their departure after the race, speedway General Manager Chris Powell said.

While most race fans probably will take Interstate 15 to the speedway, officials are encouraging folks from the western and northern parts of the valley to take the Las Vegas Beltway and fans from the east to consider using Las Vegas Boulevard North.

The shoulder for exit 54 off I-15 will be usable by all drivers, allowing three travel lanes to exit the interstate.

The problem is that drivers tend to merge into the right lane instead of realizing that two other lanes are available to exit the interstate, Powell said.

"It seems like a small issue, but it becomes a big one," he said, because the line to exit the interstate backs up.

The shoulder of Las Vegas Boulevard will be open for motorists before and after the race.

One tweak will be that truckers or other motorists stopping at the Petro truck stop off Speedway Boulevard will not be able to turn left out of the parking lot. Instead, they will have to turn right on Speedway Boulevard and head south on Las Vegas Boulevard before heading west on Craig Road to get back on the interstate.

Trucks turning left to get on the highway from the Petro truck stop caused too much of a delay in the past, said trooper Kevin Honea, spokesman for the Nevada Highway Patrol.

Gates will open at 9 a.m. today for the qualifying races. On Saturday and Sunday, gates will open at 8 a.m. and 7 a.m., respectively.

The number of fans heading to the speedway over the three-day weekend is expected to grow from about 65,000 today to more than 160,000 on Sunday to attend the UAW-Dodge 400, Powell said.

For the wealthier crowd looking to avoid the traffic, at least three helicopter tour companies were still taking reservations Thursday for aerial transport to the race this weekend. Prices ranged from $375 to $500 for a round trip.

For the rest of us, Beasley Broadcasting will provide traffic updates on three radio stations: KKLZ, 96.3 FM; Coyote Country, 104.3 FM; and KDWN, 720 AM.

Citizens Area Transit will provide speedway bus service to and from the Strip and downtown Las Vegas.

Pickup locations on the Strip include the Flamingo, Luxor, MGM Grand, Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood Resort, Riviera, Stratosphere, Tropicana, The Venetian, Wynn Las Vegas and outside the Sahara monorail station on Paradise Road and at the South Strip Transfer Terminal.

Downtown pickups will be at the Downtown Transportation Center and the corner of Fourth and Fremont streets.

The one-way fare to and from the races is $20. Discounted three-day and one-day passes are available through the Regional Transportation Commission.

Visit to learn more.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at or (702) 387-2904.

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