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DATE News (chronologically)
03/31/07
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Vegas Grand Prix gunning to get it right  Paul Tracy has been around open-wheel racing long enough to know what to expect from next weekend's inaugural Vegas Grand Prix.

"It doesn't seem to matter how well they plan and prepare for these things, there are always some last-minute things that come up," Tracy said. "I don't think I've ever been to one of these (first-time street races) where practice has started on time."

Left, the Fremont Street Experience is lit up with Vegas Grand Prix lights

Chris Kneifel, who is responsible for setting up the 2.44-mile, 12-turn course in downtown Las Vegas, insists Tracy and the other drivers will be rolling onto the circuit at 8:50 a.m. - sharp - next Friday for the first Champ Car practice.

"In terms of this racetrack, there aren't going to be any problems," Kneifel said. "We're going to be ready and it's going to be ready when we're supposed to be ready."  

Tracy, a 17-year veteran of the Champ Car World Series and a Las Vegas resident, is fully behind the downtown street race and said the event will only get better over time.

But Kneifel said he expects the course to debut as one of the top circuits on the series' schedule, which includes street races in Long Beach and San Jose, Calif., and Phoenix.

"It will be spectacular," Kneifel said of the layout. "It will be challenging, fast, safe and one that others can take a look at and envy."

The city of Las Vegas has repaved about 80 percent of the course, which will use parts of Grand Central Parkway, Bonneville Avenue, Main Street and Ogden Avenue, among other streets. Tracy praised the racing surface, which he called "glass-smooth."

Kneifel said he and his crew are determined to avoid some of the pitfalls that have hampered other first-time street races.

"The one thing I've stressed to everyone is that you only get to do it for the first time once and we're going to do this the right way the first time," he said.

"We're not going to come out of here saying, 'We really need to fix it for next year.' I already know a lot of stuff that I would like to see us improve upon for next year, but we're going to come in here and do this properly and do the city proud."  Las Vegas Sun

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