A driving instructor has filed a civil suit in Clark County District Court in Nevada with the aim of closing down the SpeedVegas track, following a fatal accident. Francisco Durban, who has been a driving instructor at SpeedVegas since March 2016, is seeking a court order to close the track down, which he claims is “inherently, excessively and unnecessarily dangerous in design and operation.” The lawsuit names SpeedVegas LLC, World Class Driving and Scott Gragson (the owner/operator) as defendants.
On February 12th, 2017, driving instructor Gil Ben-Kely and Craig Sherwood, a tourist from Ontario, Canada, were killed when the 2015 Lamborghini Aventador that was being driven by Sherwood failed to navigate an S-shaped chicane and slammed into a concrete barrier with enough force to explode into a fireball. SpeedVegas voluntarily closed down the drive program, which allows individuals with minimal training to go play in an exotic car on the closed track with an instructor in the car. The accident was identified as an “industrial accident” and the track re-opened on February 27th, 2016.
Durbin alleges that the track is unsafe by design, that the Aventador was not suitable for commercial racetrack use, that there are maintenance issues within the organization’s fleet of cars, and that the “Driving Coach Responsibilities Acknowledgement Form” that SpeedVegas had instructors sign post-crash effectively showed that the owners/operators of the driving experience had no real concern for the safety of instructors or customers. One paragraph from the form reads, “I acknowledge my job has an inherent risk invoved and every precaution has been taken to ensure my safety as well as the safety of our guests”, and it’s the sticking point for Durbin, who refuses to sign the agreement.
Why does Durbin gone to these measures? After asking to move a concrete wall away from the track and to install a safety barrier similar to Formula One-TECPRO barriers, the suggestions were dismissed and he hasn’t worked since. And that’s on top of the psychiatric evaluation and the on-track road test that drivers were required to perform in addition to signing the agreement. And that doesn’t even bring in the issues surrounding the cars themselves: questionable modifications, including brake components that would occasionally fall off of the car, were prevalent. Durbin was operating a Ferrari 458 Italia when a brake pad fell off and narrowly avoided crashing, and that was just one incident. Additionally, the Aventador that was crashed was a roadster with no rollcage installed.
Naturally, the track has gone on the defensive, denying the allegations in the suit, and vowing to defend themselves in court.
(Courtesy: Las Vegas Review-Journal)