Las Vegas Motor Speedway turned into a congressional gathering place Wednesday as several of the nation's top elected officials spent the morning turning laps with the Mario Andretti Racing School.

            Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., brought several of his colleagues in Congress to the speedway as part of his Ensign Classic fundraiser. The event raises funds for Hand Up, a charity that benefits women, children and people with disabilities. Joining Ensign on Wednesday were Sen. George Allen, R-Va., Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.

            "I think it is important for people in our positions to use those positions to help local charities," Ensign said. "I think it is an important part of the job. There are plenty of dinners and things like that, but coming out to the speedway and doing the driving school creates an experience like no other. The speedway gives us something that these people will talk about for the rest of the year. I love every opportunity to show our area off. I am so proud of this town."

            Allen, a former college football player and the son of legendary NFL coach George Allen, is an avid fan of all sports.

            "I love any kind of racing," Allen said. "I'm more a fan of NASCAR, but I like all of it. I was really excited about coming out to Las Vegas and the speedway as well. It's one of my favorite tracks to watch races on TV, and it's a magnificent facility. Plus I really love coming to Nevada. I spent many of my summers in the northern part of the state near Winnemucca. This entire area is just invigorating, and I'm so glad that I could be a part of it."

            Santorum has been selected to be the honorary starter for a NASCAR event at Pocono Raceway later on this year and also is the author of the Speedway Appreciation Bill, which provided a tax benefit to speedways.

            "This was a real rush," Santorum said. "I have never been on a race track in my life until today. This was well worth the experience. I'm excited to learn even more about all the various forms of auto racing."