|LAS VEGAS — With tons of dirt and a dose of speed, the corner of Paradise Road and Sahara Avenue will be transformed in spring of 2006 when General Motors opens the doors of "The Drive," a unique hands-on driving experience that will be the first of its kind within the United States.
Featuring two professionally-designed driving courses — including a high performance loop and an off-road adventure over a dirt terrain — The Drive will provide a unique "autotainment" experience adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip. The land to be utilized for the facility will be leased by General Motors from the Sahara Hotel & Casino. For the duration of the project, GM will also be a marketing and advertising partner of the Las Vegas Monorail Company including having the only brand presence at the monorail station at the Sahara Hotel & Casino — currently the most northern point of the Las Vegas Monorail system.
"The Drive provides a unique platform for General Motors to showcase its vehicles in an unprecedented way," said Steve Tihanyi, general director, marketing and entertainment alliances for General Motors. "With two fun-filled courses, consumers will be able to enjoy one-of-a-kind driving experiences in a variety of our products without any pressure to buy."
The performance course will feature a half-mile paved route with jogs and turns complete with chicanes to enjoy both the speed and handling control of pure sports car driving thrills. Vehicle choices to be unleashed on the Performance course will include: the legendary Chevy Corvette; the Pontiac GTO, the 400-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V; the Pontiac Solstice, a roadster exhibiting thrilling Pontiac performance; the luxurious and powerful Cadillac STS-V; and the impressive Saab 9-3 convertible.
"Guests of the Sahara Hotel & Casino and fans of NASCAR will now have the opportunity to actually feel the thrill of putting the pedal to the metal just steps from our hotel and casino," said John F. Morocco, director of operations for the Sahara Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. "The partnership with General Motors offers our guests a new thrilling attraction unlike any other near The Strip."
Keys to the rugged yet refined HUMMER H2 and mid-size HUMMER H3 will be available to consumers looking to navigate the adventurous off-road course encompassing a tunnel, hill climb, v-ditch and sloped banks, moguls and obstacles. The off-road trail is available to test out the Chevy Silverado Diesel, and once available, the redesigned 2007 models of the Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon Denali, Cadillac Escalade and Chevy Suburban. Select large SUVs will be E85 fuel compatible as well.
"This commitment from GM and the Sahara shows that the monorail is more than transit system, it is rapidly becoming an icon level attraction of the most-visited city in the world," said Curtis Myles III, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Monorail Company. "While The Drive at the Sahara monorail station exemplifies the experiential marketing environment of the monorail's advertising program, we also believe the project will create incremental ridership and revenue. We're proud to welcome General Motors to Las Vegas and we're looking forward to building a long-lasting marketing partnership with them and the Sahara on this incredible journey."
With the addition of General Motors, the monorail expands its high-profile advertiser portfolio to six along with Sprint/Nextel, Hansen's Beverage Company, Paramount Parks, BankWest of Nevada, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
The Drive, which will encompass 11 acres at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Paradise Road, will be open for a minimum six-month period. The Drive will utilize a variety of local vendors for the build phase, and will hire approximately 100 locals to help with operations once the project opens.
The Drive hours of operation (once open) are preliminarily set to be 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. seven days a week, including holidays. The Drive is accessible from the GM Monorail station at the Sahara Hotel & Casino, and parking is available at the hotel's self parking structure or valet.
Pricing and ticket locations for the driving experiences at The Drive will be announced at a later date. Drivers must be age 18 or over, and present a valid driver's license. Professional drivers (as passengers) will accompany each driver to help them get the most out of their driving experience. For the safety of all guests, on-site breathalyzer tests will be part of the mandatory registration process before guests can enjoy The Drive experience.
For those wanting to watch, The Drive will feature special viewing locations to capture pictures and witness drivers navigating the courses offered.