The Strip at LVMS introduces Thursday Night Street Wars to combat growing illegal street-racing problem in Las Vegas

The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will introduce another program to combat illegal street racing " also referred to as "the illegals" " on March 17. Dubbed "Thursday Night Street Wars," the new program will go head-to-head with "the illegals" on what has become its busiest night.

An illegal street-racing accident took the life of a young motorist two weeks ago and a similar crash last week sent two more to the hospital.

"We learned through the grapevine that Thursday is now the big night to congregate for illegal street racing," said Chris Powell, LVMS general manager. "Initially, we planned to conduct this new program in the early evening on selected Thursdays, but were afraid we simply might be used as a warm-up session for the late-night "illegals." We adjusted the hours to run directly against the illegal street races, thus offering a safe alternative to this dangerous activity."

The Strip's scheduled Friday night Midnight Mayhems will not be affected. Like Midnight Mayhem, Thursday Night Street Wars will be open to any licensed driver with proof of insurance. All cars and motorcycles must be street legal, driven to the track and pass a safety inspection. As an added incentive, Thursday Night Street Wars will award $100 and a trophy to the drivers turning in the fastest

speed and lowest elapsed time (E.T.).

"Thursday Night Street Wars hopefully will attract experienced Midnight Mayhem participants and illegal street racers who want an additional challenge," Powell said. "Racers will compete on a fully-prepped track, just like the NHRA professional drag racers are used to."

"Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been a true community partner with Metro," said Sheriff Bill Young of the Las Vegas > Metropolitan Police Department. "And they continue to step up, spending their time, effort and money to assist us in preventing this serious crime. Over the past few years we"ve had several deaths and some very serious accidents -- not to mention the havoc it creates for the innocent motorists that get caught up in this. You can cite, you can arrest, you can incarcerate. We"ve done that. We"ve tried infiltrating the (street racing) groups to figure out where they"re going to race and try to prevent it. All of those tactics do have some success, but they are a big expense to the taxpayers and prevent us from going out and fighting crime.

"I think this program is a great idea. It allows them the opportunity to race, but in a much safer environment with medical and safety personnel. It's a controlled environment with a much more professional and realistic setting.

"It's not just kids. We have stopped and cited young adults and people in their 30s and older. Common sense just tells you it's a much better environment out here at the drag strip. We strongly encourage and endorse this program."

Thursday Night Street Wars will be conducted from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Gates will open at 7 p.m. Entry fee is $20 to race. Spectator admission is $5. Alcohol is not allowed at the events.

Thursday Night Street Wars will be held on March 17, March 31, May 12, June 9, July 14, August 11 and September 15. More events may be added to the schedule to meet demand. For more information, telephone Las Vegas Motor Speedway at (702) 632-8213, visit www.lvms.com or www.lvmsstrip.com.