Driving Instructor Sues New Top Gear America Track After Double Fatality (Updated)

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Following a wreck that killed two people, an instructor at Las Vegas driving facility SpeedVegas filed a lawsuit against the track for being “unnecessarily dangerous.” The new Top Gear America, which will air later this year, named SpeedVegas as its official film studio and test track just five days ago. Update: The track’s CEO responds.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Francisco Durban, who had worked for SpeedVegas since March 2016 before being “effectively terminated,” filed the lawsuit against SpeedVegas LLC and landowner Scott Gragson. The lawsuit calls for the track to close until it can institute multiple safety protocols, including a redesign of the track.


According to the Review-Journal, Gragson’s lawsuit alleges that the SpeedVegas track “is inherently, excessively and unnecessarily dangerous in design and operation.” It also says the brakes on the Lamborghini Aventador used during the fatal track day accident in February were not properly maintained, and, get this—the Review-Journal reports that the lawsuit alleges the track car was a “roadster with a convertible top that didn’t have a roll bar or cage.” A previous Review-Journal report said the car was a convertible as well.

The lawsuit also alleged that some of the aftermarket modifications on the Aventador had been subject to a safety-recall notice, and called the conditions “a threat to plaintiff, his co-workers as well as customers of SpeedVegas.” From the Review-Journal:

After the fatal crash that killed SpeedVegas driving instructor Gil Ben-Kely and Canadian tourist Craig Sherwood, other driving instructors, including Durban, were required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, perform a road test on the track and sign an acknowledgment form that says, “every precaution has been taken to ensure my safety as well as the safety of our guests.”

Durban, who had asked track managers to move a concrete wall farther away from the track at the turn where the Aventador crashed and to install Formula One-TECPRO safety barriers, said his suggestions weren’t taken when the track reopened for business on Feb. 22. He refused to sign the acknowledgment form.


According to the Review-Journal, Durban said he’d been effectively terminated because he refused to work in the “unsafe conditions” of the race track. The Review-Journal reported that a spokesperson for SpeedVegas said the track is reviewing Durban’s complaint, but did not have comment on it.

Update: Here is a statement from Aaron Fessler, Chief Executive Officer of SpeedVegas:

SPEEDVEGAS categorically denies the allegations made in the complaint. SPEEDVEGAS engaged a panel of independent international track experts with more than 70 years of combined experience to assess our policies, procedures, design and safety systems. After extensive on-site inspections, each concluded that there is nothing inherently unsafe in either the design or operating procedures at SPEEDVEGAS. We will work vigorously to defend the company from unfounded allegations in the courtroom.


Thanks for the tip, Bill!